The Cascadia Rising disaster exercise involving Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, is scheduled for the summer of 2016 but agencies are gearing up for the event now. The scenario is based on a region-wide 9.0 earthquake. Amateur Radio is schedule to play a critical part in this scenario. In the early hours of the event, the exercise will simulate no cell phone, no telephone and overloaded or non-functional public safety communications. This will place Amateur Radio center-stage.
Will Centralia ARES be a part of this exercise? That is yet to be determined and neither Riverside Fire nor Centralia Police have decided if they will participate. This exercise could require some real overtime expenses on the part of our public safety partners as local EOC’s are asked to “ramp up” to full staffing for this multi-day event.
If we are involved, it will require us to be knowledgeable concerning multiple repeaters, HF radio communications, digital communications and message handling. All equipment must be in place and in working order and everyone should be trained to operate at all levels. As always, this is a good time to assess your skills as a ham radio operator, your equipment and train on what you don’t know. Also a great time to become a General Class ham if you are currently a Technician Class ham (especially as the question pool will change July 1, 2015).
Don’t be satisfied with where you are at in your abilities as a ham radio operator. Learn, improve, and familiarize yourselves with all aspects of Amateur Radio Emergency Services. Stay tuned for more information about Cascadia Rising as we move into 2015 and beyond.
Mike Kytta, Chief of Riverside Fire Authority, addressed our ARES group at Monday’s training meeting. Chief Kytta talked about Fire Dynamics and gave the group a refresher on correctly using a fire extinguisher. Both were interesting but the videos he included showing the different kinds of fires and how they react to fuel, heat and air were really amazing.
Riverside Fire Authority is one of our “served agencies” and we are thankful to call them our friends. Chief Kytta and his fire department personnel have done so much for our ARES group. They provide a safe, accessible location for our repeater, allowed us to put the repeater antenna on their Cooks Hill tower and even provided the ladder truck during training to complete the job of mounting the antenna. Comm II, our ARES communications van, is currently stored within Station 5 to keep it ready and out of the weather.
All of our Emergency Management partners have been generous and helpful in making Centralia ARES the success it is.
Thursday, December 11th, Southwest Washington experienced a significant wind event. Predictions indicated we would have sustained winds of 40 mph with local gust of 60 mph or more. These winds, following the three days of heavy rainfall, were enough to topple large trees and cause area wide power outages.
At 2:00pm on December 11th, Fire Chief Scott at West Thurston Regional Fire Authority requested Centralia ARES activate to assist them in their internal Emergency Operations Center for the duration of the wind event. With three operators and a fourth working the computers checking area wind speeds from his home in Centralia, the ARES team used the local BawFaw Repeater to take reports of wind conditions and seek information about local power outages.
Thankfully, the wind event did not, at least locally, live up to its predicted 60 mph gust warnings and the evening passed in relative quiet with isolated power outages and calls of trees into power lines. No lives lost and we enjoyed our first ARES call out to the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.