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“Whirlwind Boom” Emergency Communications Exercise Set in Northern Florida


The amateur radio communications team of the Florida Baptist Disaster Relief has created a multi-site radio communications exercise dubbed “Whirlwind Boom,” designed to bring together volunteers and local agencies across northern Florida and throughout the southeastern US. The 2-hour drill is set for Friday, March 19. Invitations have gone out to Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) groups, county-level emergency managers, state communications experts, and federal SHARES HF radio program volunteers, and volunteers taking part in the 2021 Florida Baptist Disaster Relief on-site training the following day.

The exercise scenario involved tornadoes coupled with the terrorist bombing of the telephone system, and large numbers of displaced residents seeking shelter. Only radio remains. During the exercise, volunteers will practice transmitting formal reports about the utility, water, and safety situations in their counties (Incident Action Plan). Many participants will communicate across hundreds of miles using portable radio gear powered by car batteries or small generators. Simulated outbound survivor messages to friends and family will also be sent by radio. Participating groups will receive secret messages advising them of unexpected handicaps that mimic what might happen during an actual disaster — complicating their tasks.

Core capabilities are mass care services and operational communications. Exercise objectives include antenna deployment, emergency power usage, communications planning, voice communication, establishment of a command net, preparing and handling formal status reports, tactical communications, survivor message handling, data communication, handling resource requests, efficient response times, promoting interoperability, and volunteer management.

These exercises are structured in accordance with Department of Homeland Security training guidelines. For more information, contact Gordon Gibby, KX4Z.





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