For those who read this blog for the RV Lifestyle…. Sorry…. This post is more Amateur Radio Related.
Yesterday the City of Ottawa (my hometown) held an Emergency Exercise. The senario was that an strong Earthquake hit the City and without boring you with local geographic location its just easier to say that it was a bad one… really bad…
As part of Ottawa’s Emergency Plan the Emergency Measures Radio Group (Ottawa ARES) was put on standby and then activated.
For a bit of background EMRG is a group of like minded amateur radio operators when directed by the City of Ottawa’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will deploy to do tasks that Amateur Radio is best suited to handle. The tasks vary depending on the needs of the OEM and we as volunteers do the best we can.
Our Group is well supported by the City and we have 5 VHF Amateur Repeaters, 2 UHF Amateur Repeaters along with a Winlink Node and a AX25 Packet Digi and BBS set up on various pieces of City Property. The repeaters are well spread out we do have the ability to talk across the City of Ottawa from its Far East end to the Far West and the Deep South end with no issues.
Yesterday after being put on standby we were activated.
My tasking was to sit with my vehicle in an eastern area and await for further instructions and respond as (if) needed.
After approx 2.5 hours we were told to de-activate and go back to stand by mode. Meaning they would call us back once (if) there was a need for our services.
Just after getting home and thinking about lunch…
We were activated again. Our tasking was to send units to a Red Cross Shelter and also to the Red Cross warehouse in Ottawa. We also needed other units available in case more shelters were opened for those displaced. This time I was acting as the Net Control Station (a “dispatcher” sort of position). I received direction from our radio operator at City Hall and then relayed those instructions to the units in the field. Approx 3 hours later we were told to stand down again and wait for further taskings.
Well right after supper….
We were activated for the third time in the day…
It seems that there had been aftershocks due to the mornings quake and this time we were tasked with checking 10 bridges that cross the Rideau River in various parts of Ottawa and report our findings back to City Hall.
I was one of the mobile units deployed to the “South End” and checked 2 bridges and one Dam. They built those old bridges strong back in the day and they survived the aftershocks…
Shortly after that we were ordered to “Stand Down” and we received the “END EX” message…
We are not 1st responders …. nor are we 2nd or even 3rd… We are a group of Citizens that are willing to use our specific skill sets to assist our community when called upon. We train with the hope that we are never called upon for real.
As with any exercise its purpose is to find problems with the system. I won’t mention my thoughts on this one as we have not been debriefed yet. However I can say that equipment wise and operator wise we did hold up our end. But…. improvements might be (should be) (could be) in order before the next time we exercise.
As always the blog posting are my thoughts and not to be considered an official statement of any sorts…. Just an old phart thinking out loud…
Thats how my day went yesterday…. How was yours?
ps…. as I write this several communities nearby have just declared States of Emergency due to the flooding of the Ottawa, Gatineau and Rideau Rivers. It makes me think that the exercise yesterday could easily become an “actual” if you replace the word “Earthquake” with the word “Flood”.
pps… also makes me hope that I repaired the water leak on the trailers roof properly as the rains continue to fall. (Remember my previous post about “Monsoon Season”???)