WESTBROOK, ME – On Saturday, August 11th, WSSM Emergency Communications Team members participated in a Regional Sheltering Exercise, at Westbrook High School. The exercise was designed to improve the coordination and integration of organizations and special teams in support of regional sheltering operations during a disaster. Among those participating, were the American Red Cross, Medical Reserve Corps, Cumberland County Animal Response Team, Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency, and the Westbrook School Department.
The event began with a registration period in the morning, followed by introductions, briefing, and a tour of the facility, and then exercise play took place. It was followed up in the afternoon by a “Hotwash” session, in which observations and comments from all the participants were welcomed.
The WSSM-ECT team split into two groups, with one staying at the shelter, and another heading to the Cumberland County EMA bunker, in Windham. During the exercise, the shelter team was provided with requisitions for supplies, for both the Red Cross and CCART, to be forwarded to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). These messages were transcribed into a digital format and transmitted to the bunker, where the staff at the EOC made assessments and sent back replies.
From a technical standpoint, the operation was a success, because the traffic was successfully sent and responded to, but the team did identify a few areas to improve upon. One was that the original message could be saved to a memory stick, which could be passed from the originating party to the radio operator. This would speed up the process considerably, and guarantee accuracy. Another was that, since a number of participants were relatively new hams, some additional training, especially with regards to the digital modes software, was recommended.
During the exercise, on the shelter side, Roger N1XP’s mobile setup was used. Special thanks to Roger for getting things setup and organized! Other participants included Peter Warren KC1DFO, Anne McBride, Brad Brown KC1JMH, Rory McEwen KB1PLY, C.J. Carlsson W1CJC, and Tim Watson KB1HNZ.