Ready, SET, Go! No, It’s a Drill…

Today started early, about 5:30am or so, getting email, RSS feeds, and social media perused, worked or avoided so I could communicate on behalf of the Mississippi Section ARES Simulated Emergency Exercise (S.E.T.) from 9am-9pm. I won’t work the entire 12 hours but I did assist our RACES Director, Mike N5DU operate the MS Emergency Management Agency’s EOC Radio Room. A few other hams, like Todd K5TDD, Bob KG5ZDZ, and Jim K0UPW (newly relocated from State of Washington) also came by to assist.

Mike N5DU has a RACES Team that he is growing, putting together continual training for those who can be deployed to other emergency zones around the country and those who will remain local (like me) to operate either at the MEMA Command Center or sheltered in-place at their QTH. It’s always a growth process as volunteer hams come and go, tire of EmComm, or leave our midst due to health reasons. But it takes organized, thoughtful, and diligent leaders like N5DU to keep the ball rolling.

K4FMH (left) assisting Mike N5DU at Communications Center, MEMA

MEMA has grown in it’s technical capability since the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. Our team working the SET today got a tour of the Command Center when integral state agencies, non-government organizations, and selected others have designated “seats” in front of PCs on the floor of the Command Center. The facility meets federal security standards specified by FEMA, Homeland Security, and other relevant regulations.

Our THIS IS A DRILL scenario today was at sudden, significant seismic activity at the New Madrid Fault in Northeast Arkansas. It is pronounced New Maaa-drid, unlike the city in Spain, commonly pronounced Ma-DRID. I texted our Section’s Emergency Coordinator, Robert KC5IMN, the correct pronunciation to relieve him of future abuse at the hands of Emergency Coordinator’s near Memphis!

New Madrid Fault Zone
Source: https://www.americangeosciences.org/geoscience-currents/earthquake-hazards-near-new-madrid-fault-zone

We had a good response and participation during the first four hours with one-hour shifts for net control operators around the state. Steve K5OMK in Starkville did a great job as did the ARES Team in Starkville. They had a lost person beacon chase (successful) in addition to the earthquake activity. I guess that was simulated preparation for the start of Southeastern Conference Football weekends in StarkVegas. Operators in Houston, Vicksburg, and elsewhere worked until we closed the MEMA EOC operation about 12:30pm. They are still at work as I write this blog post. As Assistant Delta Division Director, I’m proud of the work that Malcolm W5XX, Bob KC5IMN, and Mike N5DU have engaged in this annual activity.

The MS Section finished # 1 in ARES Section rankings for the SET in 2018. Whether that ranking continues this year matters not, if we all get more effective, efficient, and engaged in bringing our amateur radio communications game to a higher level. You keep score to motivate teams to get better, not to just win rankings, when lives are on the line. Thank God, it’s just a drill today.

Here’s a gallery of pictures from the MEMA Command Center, Levels of Activation, how this agency is organized into regions, and the radio network operating in the State, called MSWin. A staffer at MEMA today kindly gave us a brief tour.

Frank Howell, K4FMH, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Mississippi, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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