Friday, January 06, 2017

FEMA to hold monthly exercises in 2016

From ARRL:

FEMA Interoperability Exercise Deemed a Success, Monthly Exercises Set for 2017

Laura Goudreau, KG7BQR, Regional Emergency Communications Coordinator for FEMA Region X, said a December 21 Region X interoperability communications exercise on 60 meters went well.

FEMA Region X, which consists of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, now has announced that it will hold similar exercises each month in 2017, with all radio amateurs welcome to participate.

"We had 48 check-ins, of which 42 were amateurs," Goudreau said of the December event. "It was very successful and also included our first digital test." The "COMMEX" event consisted of check-ins from authorized state, tribal, federal, and Amateur Radio stations to test HF interoperability in case of an emergency or disaster response. The interoperability aspect between federal stations and Amateur Radio licensees was coordinated and authorized by the NTIA and the FCC.

The net included a digital component, intended as a one-way broadcast to test FEMA's ability to send messages and for remote stations to receive them. Goudreau said that while there's still room for improvement in the digital area, overall, she was happy with how the exercise played out.

During 2017, FEMA Region X will hold a communication exercise (COMMEX) on the third Wednesday of each month, 1500-2100 UTC. The initial exercise will take place on January 18.

"The intent of [each] COMMEX is to test and exercise interoperable communications (federal/state/local/tribal/amateur) during a major disaster, where communications infrastructure would be significantly damaged or destroyed," a FEMA Region X announcement said. FEMA Region X will use the call sign WGY910. Others taking part in these exercises will include, but are not limited to, other FEMA stations, SHARES stations, and Air Force and Army MARS stations. All stations are encouraged to participate.

The COMMEX will use the five 60-meter channels: 5,330.5 kHz, 5,346.5 kHz, 5,357.0 kHz, 5,371.5 kHz, and 5,403.5 kHz. The area of operation is the Continental US.

 -- Thanks to FEMA Region X Regional Emergency Communications Coordinator Laura Goudreau, KG7BQR, and FEMA Spectrum Manager Dave Adsit, KG4BIR