On Sunday Feb 12th the Coast Emergency Communications Association, a group of local ham radio operators who provide communication in times of emergency or crisis situations, conducted and Simulated Emergency Test. Also participating were members of the Nanaimo Amateur Radio Association. This test was to confirm stable and reliable communication could be established using various modes of operation. In addition activation and mobilization plans were tested. The exercise allowed members to practice the handling of radiograms. Stations involved in this communication exercise were located on GabriolaIsland,Nanaimo, Courtenay, Parksville, and North Vancouver. For this exercise the Emergency Management British Columbia radio room inVictoria was also activated. A total of 25 ham operators participated in this exercise.
The scenario for the event was an earthquake occurring on a previously unknown fault that runs underGabriolaIslandand out into the Strait of Georgia. There was significant damage to general infrastructure as well as communication facilities on GabriolaIsland.Vancouver Islandalso suffered damage from aftershocks. For the purposes of the exercise telephone service to Gabriola was severed, cell towers were impacted, and general phone service along with the cell service onVancouver Islandwas overwhelmed.
The exercise lasted for four hours. During this period of time members used radios on VHF, UHF and HF frequencies. Stations were established in emergency operations centres, and reception centres. This allowed the passing of radiograms up and down the east coast ofVancouver Islandand over to the lower mainland. The content of these radiograms was operational information which dealt with the event itself as well as welfare traffic which expedited the reunification of families. Some information with respect to “injuries” and “evacuation plans” was conveyed along with requests for assistance from other agencies.
The four hour period provided time to review procedures regarding notification and deployment of personnel and resources, the evaluation of equipment, and the overall operational readiness of the group. During this time period in excess of 100 radiograms were passed. Overall the exercise was deemed a success by all involved. As with any exercise there were items noted that could be improved upon, however all volunteers are to be commended for their dedication to the amateur radio emergency service.
If you are interested in serving your community, by assisting with emergency communications and can meet the criteria below we are always looking for new members.
1. Live in the City ofNanaimo, or Regional District ofNanaimo,
2. Are willing to submit to a criminal record check
3 And can provide about two hours a month
You do not have to have an amateur radio license to be part of the group. If you are interested in obtaining a license we will certainly assist you. For further information on amateur radio please visit www.va7eca.ca, www.ve7na.ca or www.va7mpg.ca