March 17th Interoperability Training

Saturday, March 17th, from 9 am – noon, Centralia ARES will join Thurston County ARES, Yelm Amateur Radio Team and the City of Lacey ARES team in a first ever cross-county Interoperability Exercise.  For a little over two months, Centralia’s leadership team has been meeting with the agencies listed above at the Thurston County Emergency Operations Center to work out the necessary protocols that would allow emergency communications teams from another jurisdiction to respond to a call for help from Centralia.

This is harder than you might think, requiring a new memorandum of understanding, frequency coordination and cross agency mission numbers.  On Saturday, March 17th, we will test it out for the first time with a “meet and greet” training exercise.  As we have always stated, Centralia ARES does things a little differently and the other groups are a bit curious.  Why do we build and use communications vans when others don’t?  Why did we feel the need to develop and train on setting up emergency shelters in local churches?  Why are our windshield survey protocols different from what others do?

During this exercise, Thurston County, Yelm and Lacey hams will drive down to Centralia where we will meet at the Mt. View Baptist Church.  They will begin in the Olympia area on one radio frequency but as they get near Centralia, they will switch to the K7CEM repeater and make contact with our Comm II communications van.  Directions about how to get to the church will be given and those visitors will then assemble there.

Once on site, we will get a chance to get to know our visitors over coffee and cookies before we sit down to a PowerPoint presentation describing the reason we train for using a church shelter.  Following the presentation, Pastor Bill will lead them through the building orientation just as we did during our first training there.  Those who haven’t been in the church before will need to identify sleeping and eating areas, registration areas and a logical place for the radios.  I’m sure there will be plenty of questions.

Next, we’ll give a different PowerPoint presentation on our communications vans describing how we obtained them, how we converted the vehicles and why we need them.  Following that, everyone will take a tour of Comm II to answer questions.  If time is available, there are plenty of restaurants in the area to share a meal or coffee.

This exercise is a great opportunity for our team members as well.  If you have gone through our shelter training program, we could use your help at various locations such as the registration table, or with the coffee and cookies.  If you have not yet been through the training, this is the perfect time to become acquainted with the procedures as well as the building we may be using for a shelter in the future.  Many of our newer members have not heard the history of our communication vans or even had a chance to do a walk through.  The Interoperability Exercise will be held Saturday, March 17th from 9 am – noon.  If you are a Centralia ARES team member please plan on participating if you can. 

Thank You Cowlitz County UAS Team

The Cowlitz County UAS Team

If you missed our Monday, March 5th training, you missed a great show.  The Cowlitz County Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) team traveled to Centralia and gave an outstanding presentation on their UAS (slightly better known as a Drone) system.  Randy Greeley, his team and the Cowlitz County Emergency Manager presented an overview which included how their one year old team began, rules and regulations about flying unmanned aircraft and lots of information about various types of equipment, prices and issues.  Last fall, the Cowlitz County UAS team responded to the Omak area to help with a search and rescue incident where they helped locate the deceased individual using the unmanned aircraft system.

If you missed this opportunity, you will have another chance as the UAS team has promised to return when the weather is a little better and give us an actual flying demonstration.

March 5th ARES Training With The Cowlitz County UAS Team

Our next Centralia ARES training will occur on Monday, March 5th from 6:30pm – 8:30pm and will be held at the Mt. View Baptist Church, 1201 Belmont Street in Centralia.

We will be hosting the Cowlitz County Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) team.  Cowlitz County has been actively building a aerial drone team to help their served agency with search & rescue and other emergency related activities.  They will be giving a presentation which will cover their program from beginning to present with an overall view about the success and pitfalls they’ve experienced.  Later in the summer, as the weather improves, they have promised to come back and give us a chance to see their equipment in action.

This is a presentation you won’t want to miss.  See you Monday

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