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Puerto Rico ARES Takes Part in Caribe Wave/LANTEX 2015 Exercise

04/01/2015

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers in Puerto Rico took part in the 2015 Caribe Wave Large Atlantic Tsunami Exercise (LANTEX) — an annual tsunami drill for the US East Coast, Canada, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Basin. The exercise involved some 50 nations. The aim of the March 25 exercise was to test the reliability of communication systems and protocols between centers of tsunami alerts and to help emergency management agencies to improve their preparedness in the event of a tsunami alert.

Since 2010, Amateur Radio operators have played a role in the exercise, executed in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Seismic Network (RSPR), the Caribbean Warning Tsunami Exercise (Caribe Wave), FEMA, the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Administration (PREMA-AEMEAD), and NOAA. This year, Puerto Rico Amateur Radio Emergency Service, under the direction of Section Emergency Coordinator Carlos A. Rosado, KP4CAR, took part for the first time.

This year’s exercise offered two possible scenarios: An earthquake-generated tsunami off the north coast of Panama, and a sub-marine landslide of the coast of Florida. The Puerto Rico Seismic Network chose the Panama scenario. At 10:04 AM Eastern Time, the Emergency Alert System (EAS) was activated on broadcast and cable TV outlets to announce the “situation” — with reminders that it was only a drill. An hour later, siren systems were tested to verify how well they performed in coastal areas. Also, many government, public, schools and senior institutions on different cities ran their own evacuation drills to test their preparedness in getting people to the nearest local refuge.

The PREMA activated all 12 of its zones. Each zone is equipped with a Kenwood TS-2000, funded through a federal grant. The main responsibility of radio amateurs was to gather reports from other amateur stations around the island regarding how they were alerted: Broadcast radio, TV, cable, or other means, such as sirens. The information was delivered to PREMA Headquarters for post-exercise evaluation session that will involve all of the involved agencies.

The exercise made use of two repeaters — one in Jayuya, the highest point on the island and equipped with emergency power, and the other in Cayey. Tito Colón, WP4CBC, and Johnny Figueroa, WP4CXG, served as net control stations, and many hams throughout Puerto Rico participated in the exercise — helping to renew their interest in emergency communication.

PREMA Director Miguel A. Ríos Torres called LANTEX 2015 a great success, with performance within parameters established by the agency. — Thanks to Angel Santana, WP3GW, Puerto Rico Section Public Information Coordinator 

 



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