WCF SECTION PRESS RELEASE #3
SARASOTA COUNTY AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS WORK WITH MULTIPLE AGENCIES TO TEST PREPAREDNESS AND INTER-AGENCY CAPABILITY DURING WILDFIRE EXERCISE
On January 16, 2016 amateur radio operators from Sarasota County and the surrounding area tested their preparedness and inter- agency capability during a wild fire exercise in Sarasota County. This exercise took place on a large parcel of public land owned by Sarasota County located near the Carlton Reserve. During the exercise, amateur radio operators from various radio clubs in Sarasota and the Sarasota County Auxiliary Communications Service worked with multiple agencies including the Sarasota K9 Search & Rescue Team, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota County Emergency Management, Sarasota County Cattlemen’s Association, the Florida Forest Service, the American Red Cross, and the National Weather Service in Ruskin.
This exercise tested the capabilities and preparedness of the amateur radio operators in Sarasota County and the surrounding area and how they were able to integrate with other agencies during a disaster situation. Amateur radio operators operated not only from the field, but also from the American Red Cross, the Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center, and the National Weather Service in Ruskin. Other amateurs filled various support roles while operating from their homes.
In addition to testing inter-agency operability, this exercise offered local amateur radio operators the opportunity to test their own capability while operating from a remote area. Radio operators exercised their ability to provide their own power, antennas, and portable radio set-ups in order to establish and maintain communications throughout the scenario. Various frequencies and local repeaters were used during the exercise, including Sarasota Emergency Radio Club repeaters (145.130 and 147.390 MHz) and the NI4CE repeater system.
The exercise proved to be a great success and many of the outside agencies were impressed by what the amateur radio operators had to offer. Using only whatever they brought with them, the amateur radio operators were able to effectively maintain communications throughout the exercise. For the ham radio operators involved in the exercise, “Amateur radio, when all else fails” was more than just a slogan. This exercise proved that they could effectively establish emergency communications without the use of traditional telephone, internet, or other infrastructure which might be compromised or otherwise unavailable during a wildfire situation.
Photos courtesy of George Wagner K5KG