Despite some challenges, the 2022 Simulated Emergency Test was a big success for our team!
Since early Spring, the communications room at the Cumberland County EMA was undergoing various phases of renovation, and getting the gear setup in time for the SET was a huge undertaking. Our team also acquired, through grants, some new deployable equipment, which had just been taken out of the box a few days before the Saturday of the test! But, our team pulled it all together and did a great job demonstrating their skills once again, to make us one of the top performing groups in the state.
Despite this, there were some minor hiccups. Our primary deployed team, consisting of Brad Brown KC1JMH and Peter Hatem KC1HBM, was sent to Scarborough High School having never setup a Buddipole antenna before and with a brand new Icom IC-7100. Somehow, they managed to get the antenna setup and the radio on the air, although they did miss a couple of early tasks.
Things went smooth at the EOC, despite getting the gear setup the Thursday evening before the test. This consisted of more than just plugging in the equipment, but required the installation of a new PC for the HF station, including all necessary software, setting up two new work stations, routing coax through the ceiling and down the walls to the workstations, grounding, setting up a LAN, and more! The team of Tim Watson KB1HNZ and CJ Carlsson W1CJC, took turns manning the HF, V/U, and DMR stations, and performed all the necessary tasks.
Meanwhile, Waylon McDonald KC1HJN was deployed to multiple shelter locations throughout the county and successfully completed all of his objectives, and Eric Emery N1RXR, operating remote from New Gloucester, acted as a key station, performing relays when needed, and handled traffic for the National Weather Service, in Gray, ME.
Here’s what the 2022 SET consisted of:
Name of exercise: 2022 Maine Simulated Emergency Test
Date of activity: October 22, 2022
Duration of activity: 08:00 – 12:00
Type: Multi-mode communication exercise between State and County EMAs, as well as other agencies, including Red Cross and the National Weather Service.
Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA)
National Weather Service, Gray, ME
WSSM-ECT: Participants will operate from the EOC, home, at deployed stations, and mobile from shelters.
Purpose: Test ability to communicate inter-county and between counties, using various modes: UHF FM repeater, VHF FM Simplex, HF SSB, VHF Packet, HF Digital, and Winlink via VHF Packet and HF.
Objectives: Perform Amateur Radio Tasks as outlined in the 2022 Maine SET Plan:
- Digital data with other Counties on Amateur VHF repeater systems and packet network.
- Voice with other Counties on Amateur VHF using simplex.
- Voice with other Counties on Amateur HF systems
- Retrieve a text file using Packet
- Digital data via Amateur Packet and Winlink systems
TASK 1 – Perform voice radio checks inter-county via Amateur UHF repeater
TASK 2 – Perform voice radio checks inter-county via Amateur HF
TASK 3 – Establish communications with Statewide Emergency Net and perform voice radio checks with other Counties via Amateur HF
TASK 4 – Perform voice radio checks inter-county via Amateur VHF Simplex
TASK 5 – Perform voice radio checks with nearby Counties via Amateur VHF simplex
TASK 6 – Exchange ICS-213 messages via voice, digital, Winlink, and Packet
TASK 7 – Retrieve a text file via PACKET
TASK 8 – Send Digital Data through the Maine Packet Network
Although highly successful, the 2022 SET highlighted some areas that can be more fine tuned. One of these is more hands-on training with deployable equipment, and another is, as always, traffic handling. Having more time to spend with our new gear, we’ll easily remedy the first concern, but the latter is more a widespread problem, not isolated to our team. In fact, having handled something like 32 messages during the SET (mostly within the county), we do very well with it, but I’ve found a lack of continuity on the statewide level, that can only be fixed with a unified acceptance of modes, forms, and protocol. I have no doubt this will get better with time, as we do more exercises, and hopefully, by next year, we’ll all be on the same page.
Click here to download our 2022 SET After Action Review.