Emergency Preparedness Week Exercise

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(Last updated 2010-04-24.  Change log at bottom of this page.)

Objective

An Alberta wide communications exercise involving ARES groups.   The initial, and now secondary, objective was to exercise the VE6NHB and VE6OIL repeaters using the SARA system for eight hours.  This is in accordance with the contract with CBC Transmission in Edmonton and Calgary where the repeaters reside.  

Overview

The Emergency Preparedness Week exercise will be on Saturday 2007 May 12 from 9 am to 5 pm Mountain time.  The exercise is open to all who are interested within Alberta or elsewhere.   Participate for an hour or three or all day.   Your group can participate via direct repeater link if close enough to a SARA UHF hub or a VHF drop repeater, IRLP, or via HF. 

Participating groups

If you are only participating for a few hours identify yourself when a break in traffic occurs and we will add you to the roster of participating stations.   RAC Amateur Radio Emergency Service Alberta page.

Request for leaders of participating groups.

  1. I would like several contacts from your groups including email addresses and cell phone numbers with the primary contact indicated.  This will only be distributed to exercise leaders.   
  2. Will there be any served agencies doing any equipment demonstrations in your area? 
  3. If so, can you arrange for messages to be sent from the served agency to their counterpart, if any, in another city?
  4. Does your group want to do net control for an hour or two?

Exercise leaders contact info and cell phone numbers will be part of a Word doc file that will only be distributed to those people.   SARA repeater emergency contact info will also be part of a Word doc file that will only be distributed to key ARES personnel within the province.

How can I participate?

If you are not part of an ARES group you can participate by checking in on the general listener check in net at approximately 9:30 am and 1:30 pm.   (Note that the 9:30 am net will finish at 10 pm so the Red Deer group can send and receive their message traffic while local municipal officials are participating.)   Please mention what emergency preparedness efforts you have taken and if you will be participating in Field Day.

If you have HF capability you can participate in the HF nets. See the HF Frequencies section in this document.

If you are in the Edmonton area come on down to Hawrelak Park.  However do take the shuttle to the site as parking is very limited and should be reserved for the general public.  Shuttle ETA and drop off/pick up points will be available on the VE6UV repeater.  It's position will be tracked via APRS.

VHF/UHF Frequencies

Edmonton VE6NHB 145.410
Calgary VE6OIL 146.610
Vegreville (Willingdon) VE6RJK 146.790
All the UHF hubs which are on the SARA backbone

IRLP

SARA will be utilizing the Halifax 9011 (Rob VE1KS ewertr at eastlink dot ca) node with the Saskatoon 9302 (Chris VE5BAR morgcl at sasktel dot net) node as the backup. During the exercise you can click on the above reflector links to see which stations are connected to the reflector.

You will need to connect your repeater to the IRLP reflector yourself.  That can't be done from any other repeater or the SARA system.  I would suggest testing this ahead of time.  You can test this yourself by connecting to the Saskatoon reflector 9302 Saturday evenings at 8:30 pm as the Saturday evening Swap & Shop net will now be using the reflector.  Or you can connect to chat Halifax 9013 channel Wednesday mornings at 9 am during the Trans Canada net.

SARA system and IRLP testing

Friday evening May 11th at 7 pm I will be bringing up all the participating drop repeaters and connecting to the Halifax reflector and then the Saskatoon reflector.  Feel free to participate.  If this isn't a convenient time email me and we'll figure out a mutual time for testing.

HF frequencies.

James VE6SRV will be at the Emergency Management Alberta office in Edmonton from 10 am to 4 pm.  He will be active on 3.765 MHz LSB from 10 minutes after the hour until 20 minutes after the hour.   And then 7.055 MHz LSB from 20 minutes after the hour to 30 minutes past the hour.   (These are odd times due to moving visiting hams in and out of the EMA office at the top of every hour.)

From the ARES Edmonton Region website > Contact Frequencies page

Alberta HF ARES Frequencies - 1.844 MHz, 3.765 MHz & 7.055 MHz (LSB), plus 14.135 MHz & 144.144 MHz (USB).

If there are any changes they will be mentioned in the half hourly exercise report on the SARA system.   James may be giving us hourly HF situation reports on the SARA system.

Schedule

9 am - Net control: Edmonton

10 am to 11 or 12 am - Net Control: Red Deer

1 pm

4:40 pm

5 pm

Otherwise message traffic and occasional surprises thrown in.  Exercise report approximately every half hour.

Net Control

Net control will be assigned to Red Deer while we target them specifically and otherwise will be rotated among the ARES groups wishing to do the job .  Please let me know if you have a specific time you'd like to be net control.

Note that everyone should press the PTT buttons for about two or three seconds before starting to talk   There are about twelve radios between the south east end and north east end of the SARA system.  It takes time for the repeaters to turn on from one end of the system to the other end.   Also IRLP has about a one second delay.

A five or ten second break between messages and/or three or five minute intervals is required to allow hams to break in with network messages, HF situation reports or Environment Canada forecasts.

Exercise reports

Exercise reports will be given approximately every half hour.   The script is:

All stations, all stations, all stations.  This is <your call sign phonetically>,  my name is <first name> and I'm at <station name>.   This is the Emergency Preparedness Week Exercise on the SARA linking repeater system, various linked VHF drop repeaters and connected IRLP stations.   This exercise will run from 9 am to 5 pm.  We're on hour <insert hour> of the exercise.  For more information visit the website at www.saralink.ca and click on the Emergency Preparedness Week Exercise link.

Stations with emergency traffic will be recognized by using the words "no duff" or by giving a double break and identifying themselves using proper phonetics.  Everyone will then standby.

The following ARES groups are currently participating.   <insert list here>

The current HF frequencies are:  <insert list here>

The current exercise status is <insert several sentences or paragraphs here>.  There may not be much here as we may be passing humorous or unrelated messages.

The current net control operator will be expected to give the exercise report.  

Messaging

Messages can be sent using the standard Radiogram form or whatever form or method your group or served agency uses.   For some sample forms, including Radiogram and incoming, outgoing and station logs visit the Edmonton Amateur Radio Emergency Service website and click on the Documents link.

Each ARES group should have two or three messages ready to go to another participating ARES group or to participating agencies. And, of course, you'll need to respond to incoming messages to your group appropriately.

All message traffic should state "exercise" at the beginning and end of the body text.

Put some humour in the messages.  Make them slightly whacky.  Let's have some fun.

Tips:  Yes, I know most people reading this page are old pro's.  But I recently retook the message course and did the message handling workshop and came out with the following tips.
1) After the message header before the message text state "Roger so far" and wait for the other station to verify that they could keep up with you.  Don't forget to hold the PTT button for two or three seconds before starting to talk.
2) As you are reading the message write it down on a piece of scrap paper.  This will ensure that you are speaking slow enough for the receiving operator.   You will feel quite silly for being so slow but the receiving operators will be grateful.

While groups in other provinces may be participating somewhat we will use local Mountain Time for this exercise.  

Scenario

A massive ice storm has taken out utility power throughout much the province of Alberta.   The ice storm caused various accidents with overturned tankers.   Explosions and fires conveniently, for the purposes of our exercise, took out major fiber optic links in the province.   In other places the battery stacks of the telephone company failed.   With a whole bunch of ham ingenuity, duct tape, baling wire and generators the SARA system is still running.

Think up some relevant messages that could be sent to various groups participating in this exercise.    I will be working on some  messages to start things going. 

Logging

All participating groups should maintain individual exercise log containing location, call sign, contact info and times of contacts. If desired I can make a Microsoft Access logging database, along with a runtime available for anyone to use if they wish.   I would appreciate a copy of your log, be it an Excel spreadsheet, paper which has been scanned and emailed or faxed.  Email me for my fax number.

Miscellaneous

Interested in ARES in Alberta?  Join the ARES_AB reflector. This is a place where we can keep each other up to date on information pertinent to ARES in Alberta.  The volume is relatively low at a few emails per month.

Change Log

2007-04-29:  Changed exercise time from 10 am through 6 pm to 9 am through 5 pm.   Updated schedule accordingly.  Added agencies to Edmonton's list of participating groups.

2007-05-10:  High Level will not be participating this exercise. Lloydminster will be participating.  Updated frequencies and times in the HF section.  Added more items in the Scheduled items section.  Changed the phrase situation report to exercise report.  Updated message section.   Added How can I participate section.

2007-05-10:  Peace Country ARES will be participating via HF only as their IRLP node is down.  Edmonton assigned as Net Control for 9 am to 10 am.

2007-05-11:  Added the following to the net control section:  "A five or ten second break between messages and/or three or five minute intervals is required to allow hams to break in with network messages, HF situation reports or Environment Canada forecasts."

Questions?

Please email me Tony VE6MVP at tony at ve6mvp dot com.  I will update this web page as soon as I can with the answer.

Many thanks,

Tony VE6MVP
Director, Southern Alberta Repeater Association.

Website copyright 2004-2013 Tony VE6MVP