Friday, November 6, 2009

State Wide Exercise Report

The folowing is a after action report I filed in review of the state wide MEMA exercise held 10/29-10/30 2009. EMCOMM would like to thank all that participated in the event making it a success.

"On Thursday, October 29th at 1100 hrs I received a call from Rick Henion, an agent of the Maine Forestry Service who was calling from the Hancock County Emergency Management Agency located in Ellsworth. Rick advised me that he was tasked with calling Hancock County EMCOMM to participate in the planned weather related exercise that was a statewide event. Scenario: weather conditions were worsening with an approaching low-pressure system, which was predicted to end up in severe icing conditions across the area. We were asked to provide supplemental communications at the EOC, which was the Hancock County EMA office. I radioed Robert Carter, AA1PI who is a Hancock County EMCOMM Board of Director and he agreed to deploy to the EMA office with equipment including VHF/UHF voice and VHF packet and APRS systems. A standby net was implemented when Bob arrived and check ins were taken. We ended up with VHF and HF relay stations in Sorrento, Bar Harbor, Ellsworth, Mariville area, Lamoine and Bucksport along with AA1PI’s station at the EMA office which also has a dedicated Motorola VHF radio programmed with ham frequencies for our use. I stood by at my work QTH monitoring traffic with a 2M HT and took traffic and held any to relay to Bob while he was setting up his equipment. Through out the day traffic was passed and attempted to be passed, by which I mean the HF link(s) were sketchy at times due to propagation issues on both 3.940 and 7.262. Bob got packet messages flowing thru nodes and relays to MEMA and Kennebec EOC. There were some minor glitches that popped up throughout the day but Bob handled them professionally all the time being the sole operator at HCEMA EOC throughout most of the day. HF relay stations had issues at times but it seemed that all traffic got passed and received by teamwork. Washington County, whom we work closely, with had issues at the Washington EOC due to proximity to public service antennas and radios along with a general poor location…down in a hole. Being so, they called upon us at times to help out which Hancock County was able to do most of the time. The original scenario called for repeaters to go down but that did not happen, but we did use simplex a number of times.

Overall, from comments by the other agencies participating, we came thru with good grades from all.

Local observations: We need an additional operator when the EOC is activated. Bob was swamped at times with technical duties along with requests from EMA to pass traffic.
Hancock County EMA needs a dedicated HF antenna which was talked about a week prior to the exercise but time restraint prohibited that task at the time. Packet radio is the tool to get hams on board with if they want to play EMCOMM., and using Outpost program is the tool to make life easier for all on board. Additional nodes and digipeters throughout the state should be considered."

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