On Saturday, July 19, 2014, the Prince William County ARES cadre took to the field for a communications exercise. The exercise was centered around a recovery operation, the day after a hurricane came through the region. There were seven operational stations representing the Emergency Operation Center, the two primary hospitals in the county, two shelter locations, and two points of distribution for supplies. The exercise was designed with a mixture of message types, both voice, and digital. The messages were representative of the types of traffic that would be passed during a normal activation. There were fifteen operators acting as the various locations. It was a successful exercise with numerous lessons learned and several opportunities for improvement in the coming months.
What went right:
- One of the best exercises we have done! It was one of the first blended (voice and digital) exercises we have done as a cadre and the first real exercise we have done in the last couple of years.
- Everyone using digital stations did manage to pass at least one message and the messages were received by every participating station.
- Voice messages were passed.
What do we need to work on:
- We need to work on our voice message passing. We are out of practice. Some additional work on “prosigns” and procedure needs to be done. Eric, KK4NXU has offered to spearhead an ARES practice network. Details to come.
- Digital messages are improving but there is a request for:
- Another confiruation session (including some documentation). David and Chuck have volunteered to host a configuration session in August.
- A useage session was also requested to go through how to do things, like send message traffic. A session for this will also be set up.
- We need to start moving the stations apart and to that end, as part of the potential ARES net, we will work on voice and digital. This is also a work in progress.
- A PC in the EOC will need to be configured with FLDigi and be part of the EOC network for access to WebEOC for cutting and pasting. David will take that up with Pat this week.
Thanks to Paul, N2PJ, for the great pictures!