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Emergency Messaging Demonstration for Red Cross, FEMA is a Success


With Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials monitoring, dozens of radio amateurs along the US east coast on May 23 demonstrated Amateur Radio’s ability to deliver messages without commercial power, infrastructure, or permanently established stations. The event took place in coordination with ARRL. The demonstration was a mock response to a simulated disaster scenario — a major hurricane with mass casualties. During the event, radio amateurs at portable stations from New England to the Carolinas delivered message traffic to W1AW, which coordinated and delivered the information to officials attending a joint Red Cross-FEMA meeting in Baltimore.

“About a dozen stations participated in the demonstration, including operators in Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, northern New Jersey, western Pennsylvania, Delaware, and South Carolina,” ARRL Communications Manager Dave Isgur, N1RSN, said. “Red Cross officials were on-site at W1AW and at the receiving station in Baltimore. At both sites, they indicated that were impressed with Amateur Radio’s ability to deliver messages digitally so that could be displayed on a computer screen and in a format that matched the format for messages that the Red Cross uses.” Isgur said ABC, CBS, and Fox TV affiliates sent reporting teams to W1AW.

A few stations, including W1AW and stations in Baltimore, generated local media coverage of their participation, much of it tied into the notion of “Amateur Radio operators and the partner agencies they serve are getting ready for 2018 Hurricane season.” Hurricane Season begins on June 1 and continues through November 30.

W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, said the exercise went well overall. “Conditions were a bit tepid at best, but we were able to establish voice contact first, and then proceed with the digital traffic (MT63-1KS) during the roll call,” Carcia said. “Digital signals were good. I needed just one retransmit. We used fldigi with flmsg. This made life so much easier.”



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