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Emergency Communication Exercise Set in Northern Florida

02/21/2020

On Sunday, March 1, dozens of amateur radio volunteers from several states will take part in a 3-hour exercise in the northern Florida city of Gainesville. The exercise is designed to test and evaluate skills, assets, and strategies for emergency communication, such as those that might be needed in the aftermath of a hurricane. The exercise is being organized by the North Florida Amateur Radio Club (NFARC) and the Gainesville Amateur Radio Society (GARS), as part of the third annual Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference, held on Saturday and Sunday, February 29 – March 1.

This year’s “Hot and Cold” exercise scenario is based on hypothetical high-pressure natural gas pipeline ruptures and subsequent fires, as well as a loss of electrical power during an extreme cold-weather event. The sudden widespread event then caused telecommunications failures in undersea cables to develop, with widespread communication systems overloading and failing.

Exercise planners used the revised and just-released Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) in planning the event. The update incorporates feedback and input from exercise planners and practitioners across the country and ensures that HSEEP doctrine, the training course, and corresponding documents continue to best meet the needs of communities.

Collaborating Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference lecturers have created a more than 200-page manual for the multi-track training sessions on Saturday. Participants will get to put what they learned into practice the next day, as they fan out to seven assigned simulated shelter locations and the Alachua County Emergency Operations Center. The club says Alachua County Emergency Manager Hal Grieb is supporting the volunteer-driven Homeland Security exercise and evaluation program-based effort, and he and his staff will serve as evaluators. Former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, also plans to be on hand.

For the past 3 years, NFARC has published the conference proceedings, and last year, it also published the written report of its exercise. Last year’s exercise scenario focused on a new respiratory virus that had crippled the nation.

With the release of the updated 2020 HSEEP document, FEMA will be hosting webinars to provide information, highlights, and changes as a result of the review process. Webinars will continue until mid-May. Visit the HSEEP webpage for additional dates and times. — Thanks to Dr. Gordon Gibby, KX4Z; The ARES E-Letter



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