Each month, the Centralia Amateur Radio Emergency Service team comes together for brunch at our favorite local restaurant. It is simply a time to get together while stuffing ourselves with great food and calling it a meeting. Brunch is always held on the last Thursday of the month at 10:30 am, and everyone is welcome. While training and exercises are important, we recognize that eating fabulous food at a nice restaurant is really why we stay together as a team
Our favorite brunch restaurant is Judy’s Country Kitchen, 3210 Galvin Road in Centralia. Come early and bring an appetite.
April 2018 QST
If you are a current ARRL member, you probably received your April 2018 issue of QST by now. Included in this month’s issue is an article in the Public Service section, written by EC Bob Willey, about our August helicopter landing zone training exercise. In fact, if you participated in that exercise, you are probably in the group photo next the Airlift Northwest helicopter.
The article encourages ARES teams to train on helicopter landing zone operations and describes how Centralia ARES went about doing exactly that. All too often, ARES teams seem to restrict their training and exercises to simple and somewhat boring radio operations. In a community like Centralia, our ARES team supports the City of Centralia’s Emergency Management Team as well as the Centralia Police Department and Riverside Fire Authority. While we may not conduct helicopter operations on a regular basis, training ahead of time to conduct those operations seems important and prudent. As the article goes on to say, even if teams are never asked to set up a landing zone or talk a helicopter onto the ground, the training alone is valuable to team spirit and radio familiarization.
Our thanks to Airlift Northwest and Riverside Fire Authority for their help and support during the training exercise outlines in this article. Thanks too, to the ARRL staff that did a great job.
Our March 19th ARES training was directed at our newer team members. Over the past few months, we have benefited from several new members, the majority of which have Technician Class licenses. We certainly appreciate the new blood within our group but each new member brings training challenges. The PowerPoint presentation by EC Bob Willey this evening specifically covered our team’s formation following the devastating 2007 100-year flood event. Pointing out that annual flooding incidents threaten our community each and every year, mistakes learned the hard way from previous floods have been the basis for our group’s formation and the foundation of our training.
Much of 2017’s ARES training was spent on shelter operations and medivac helicopter landing zone operations. During an earlier flood incident, police and fire were forced to evacuate a local nursing home when rising waters in the middle of the night threatened the facility. Approximately 30 residents, some in wheelchairs or bedridden, were evacuated before the flood waters stopped coming up. Those evacuees were housed in a local school. Red Cross was called but our need was immediate and before Red Cross could set up a shelter, the flood was over and the evacuees returned to their nursing home. Since that time, Centralia ARES has asked several local churches to become short term emergency shelters should this type of event occur again. 2017’s training moved the team through how to evaluate a local church to be sure it can meet the needs of a 3-4 day flood event. Training also included registering evacuees, establishing sleeping areas, eating areas, social areas and a separate communications area which allows the team direct contact with the Centralia EOC. We developed a small communications trailer that can be placed outside a local church and which is able to provide detachable radio boxes that can be taken into the church. With a small VHF antenna on the trailer, direct communications by repeater or simplex with the EOC is possible. While church members are responsible for the largest part of any shelter operations, the ARES team is trained to quickly establish the shelter and shelter comms, then man the shelter until such time as church membership can take over. Once that happens, only a small communications team need stay.
Last night’s training also talked about our served agencies, Centralia’s emergency management system as well as the police department and Riverside Fire Authority. As we strive to provide support to these first responders, we practice and train for everything from lost child searches to helicopter landing procedures for medivac purposes. Within a small community, the first responder numbers are also small. Faced with a major flood or disaster, they will need all the support they can find. We train to be ready to fill that need. We will certainly be ready for “when all else fails”, but until needed for that purpose we want to be able to support our community in every way possible.