ARES SET Drill – Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013

Hello Fellow Amateurs!

On Saturday, October 5, the ARRL will be holding it’s annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET) drill from 9am-noon. From the ARRL website –  The ARRL Simulated Emergency Test is a nationwide exercise in emergency communications, administered by ARRL Emergency Coordinators and Net Managers. Both ARES and the National Traffic System (NTS) are involved. The SET weekend gives communicators the opportunity to focus on the emergency communications capability within their community while interacting with NTS nets.
Our county-wide scenario will be that a large tornado has moved through the county. It has disrupted communications and has caused widespread injuries throughout the county.
Our Section Emergency Coordinator, Harry Bloomberg, W3YJ has set some specific guidelines for each county and we are going to follow those to the best of our ability. We will need to have at least one operator and possibly two at each hospital in the county to man the 2 meter station at each facility. We will test our ability to pass traffic to one another utilizing the W3LIF repeater and simplex. We will also have the EMA station on the air as well and most net control will probably take place at that location.
I anticipate a “call-out” over the air via the 145.35 W3LIF repeater system on Saturday morning. This would be just as we would have it in a real situation. We will first set up a SKYWARN net and begin taking simulated damage reports. Through these reports, it will become apparent that a large tornado has affected much of the county. Shortly thereafter, we will be asked by the Red Cross to send operators to each of the shelters that they  are going to be setting up at local high schools. We will need operators to go to each of those locations.
Hospitals will be sending simulated health and welfare traffic to net control to indicate how many patients have arrived, etc. We will also send simulated health and welfare traffic between net control and the Red Cross shelters at the high schools.
It is likely that we will need to use 2 different repeaters and there may even be a surprise thrown in – hint – just be prepared to operate simplex if needed!
A reminder – There are many, many folks who listen to us on the air. There may also be many folks around during the SET drill observing what we are doing. We must act and conduct ourselves professionally at all times. In a real emergency, our served agencies will be looking to us to help and if they don’t think that we can handle the job in a professional and efficient manner, they will not ask for it in the future. Remember, our job is to serve and help them.
One final point that I’d like to emphasize – If you can, please get out to these locations and operate portable as closely as you would in a real situation. Obviously, this is a simulation, but if you are asked to go to a Red Cross shelter or some other location, please try to be available to actually do that as it will be a better test of our actual preparedness. It is not likely that you will be able to get into the schools and actually set up a portable station, but getting to the parking lot and operating mobile or portable (even better) will give us a good idea of how well our equipment works in those situations. Why not test out how well your handheld will do? It may be all you have in an emergency!
So please plan ahead! Make sure your batteries are charged and you have backups. Get your “go-kit” together and prepare! I’m looking forward to a great drill!
If you plan to participate (or if you have any questions), please email me at so that I can plan accordingly!
For more information and tips, check out Hope to hear you on Oct. 5!

Red Cross Drill – April 27, 2013

On April 27, 2013, Amateur Radio was asked to participate in a drill collaboratively with the American Red Cross. Our primary goal in this exercise was to establish communications between our Chapter Office and (for the purposes of the drill) a shelter in Mercer County, and the Red Cross HQ in Pittsburgh.
Two radio stations were assembled the day of the exercise:
  • Sharpsville – Hermitage link using W3LIF 145.3500 repeater maintained by the Mercer County Amateur Radio Club & Mercer County Emergency Management Agency.
    • a path was maintained using analog voice and Fldigi data
  • Hermitage – New Castle relay link through N3ETV 147.1950 repeater maintained by Amateur Radio League of Lawrence County which linked the machine with W3YJ in Pittsburgh via 443.4500.
    • a path was maintained using analog voice and Fldigi data
Eight (8) amateur radio operators participated at two ARC sites. We thank them for their generosity in donating their time, their equipment and their skills to make possible connecting ARC facilities across its SW PA Region. And Mercer County thanks Lawrence County ARES for supplementing our capabilities.

2013-04-27 09.06.29

  • Sharpsville, PA ARC Chapter office
      • Doug Butchy, W3SAX
      • Steve Singer, KB3YCT
      • Doug Noderer, W3FYV
      • Steve Shemancik, AA3EW
  • Hermitage, PA ARC Disaster Shelter First Assembly of God Church
    • Tom Pryts, N3NTF
    • Gary Goelz, WZ3O
    • Greg Singer, KB3WCU
    • Joe Vaccaro, W3JTV
Operators were prepared to utilize HF if terrain required and had D-STAR available. RF propagation was supplemented with directional antennas.
Mercer County ARES passed about a half dozen pieces of traffic for the ARC and thanks the ARC Chapter, the Salvation Army and the First Assembly of God Church for their accommodations and hospitality.

Steve, KB3YCR, sends and receives data via FLDigi as Doug, W3FYV, looks on.

Steve, KB3YCT, sends and receives data via FLDigi as Doug, W3FYV, looks on.