MEDIA RELEASE: SEATTLE’S “HAM RADIO” ROLL IN EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PREPAREDNESS TESTED IN NATIONAL EXERCISE SATURDAY

October 5, 2009

Media Photo and Sound opportunity at: Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford 4649 Sunnyside Ave N. Seattle Contact: JD Wallace cell phone 479-466-2074, North Seattle Community College 9600 College Way N. contact: Dale Nelson cell phone 206-406-6442 and West Seattle Neighborhood Communications Hub’s contact: Chris Yody cell phone 425-234-1442  from 10 AM – 11:30 AM Saturday morning.

Media contact:

Dave Mann, ACS, PIO

206 365-9700

Saturday October 10th

SEATTLE: Ham Radio’s roll in emergency communication and preparedness capabilities will be tested by the City’s Office of Emergency Management in a National Simulated Emergency Test (SET), sponsored by the Amateur Radio Relay League to test the capabilities of Amateur Radio to assist communities with the use of Ham Radio in times of Disaster and Community needs, when normal channels of radio communications fail.

Three Volunteer Radio groups,  Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), King County Medical Service Team, supporting Seattle Hospitals and Neighborhood Preparedness Teams will participate in the exercise that centers around a server winter storm and Green River Flooding causing wide spread communications disruptions to Seattle.  This simulated event will include loss of conventional and cellular phone systems as well as overloading of municipal radio systems that serves police, fire and all city agencies.

Using battery powered HAM radios, members of the Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service will set up radio field networks to relay emergency service requests by radio voice and digital text.  Messages will be sent and received in support of various City agencies and neighborhood communications posts located across the City.  The City’s Emergency Operations Center, using Ham Radio Station W7ACS, will be the central communications hub during the simulated disaster event to assist the City’s Emergency and Recovery response.  Another station will be operated at North Seattle Community College to test redundancy and distribution of resources.

Mark Sheppard, ACS Director said, “New to this year’s SET will be the connection with Neighborhood Radio Network Hubs from West Seattle, Queen Anne / Magnolia and Wallingford to relay simulated emergency service requests and damage assessments to a central field hub for ACS members to forward this information with the use of Ham Radio to the City’s EOC to provide emergency services.”  These hubs provide a mechanism for Seattle Neighborhood Actively Prepare (SNAP) Teams to communicate with the City.

Western Washington Medical Service Team is the third group participating in this exercise and will be setting up and testing emergency communications networks between Canada and the US for the 2010 Olympics for medical support from Western Washington and Seattle health care facilities , should the need arise.

Brian Daly, MST Emergency Coordinator said, “Our unit will use the exercise also to prepare for possible Howard Hanson Dam flooding , which could impact healthcare facilities and supply houses in the Green River Valley. Establishing emergency communications networks will better prepare us for scenarios we may encounter this winter, and demonstrate our preparedness to support the mission to help healthcare maintain 24x7x365 communications.”

Because of the complexity of today’s normal communications systems, even if they remain functional they are often overwhelmed in a disaster.  Ham Radio played a critical roll in the recent Hurricanes, Floods and Ice Storms when normal communication failed and provided emergency communications assistance between many government and volunteer agencies.

The purpose of the SET is to find out the strengths and weakness of Ham Radio groups in providing emergency communications and provide a public demonstration–to served agencies such as Municipal Emergency Operation Centers, Red Cross, Port of Seattle and Civil Preparedness–of the value to the public that Amateur Radio provides, particularly in time of need.  The SET is designed to help radio amateurs gain experience in communications using standard procedures and a variety of modes under simulated emergency conditions. This is the main goal outlined by the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), the national membership association for amateur radios operators in the United Sates, sponsors of the national annual SET exercise.

ACS, MST and SNAP volunteers that serve the City of Seattle in the roll of backup radio emergency communications participate in monthly training sessions to enhance their emergency messaging skills for lifesaving services and communications for Seattle Office of Emergency Management.  Weekly radio communications network test are conducted by the groups to test the readiness of their equipment and operational proficiency.

MST is an amateur radio volunteer group that provides back up vital emergency communications between medical facilities and suppliers in the community.  MST members are affiliated with ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) an amateur radio public service organization sponsored by the ARRL.  Membership of ARES is open to all licensed Amateur Radio Operators.

ACS Members are a team of over 100 unpaid volunteer communications professionals that assist the City Seattle with public safety and emergency communications in time of disasters and/or community needs.  ACS is affiliated with the Radio Amateur Radio Civil Emergency Service (RACES) sponsored by FEMA to serve Emergency Management Departments.

Seattle SNAP is a program that educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue team organization.  This group serves the Seattle Office of Emergency Management.

For more information about the City of Seattle Emergency Management Services and the SNAP program please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/emergency/default.htm

Information about Seattle ACS or how to join the team please visit the Seattle ACS website: http://seattleacs.com. For more information about the Western Washington Medical Service Team, visit: http://ww7mst.org.

Information on the Communications Hub Program:

West Seattle site: http://westseattle.beprepared.info/site/page1.aspx

Queen Anne / Magnolia: http://seattledisaster.org/planrevised10-08.pdf

Wallingford: http://council.iactivesite.com/page.aspx?navid=1544

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