In the November 14 exercise LeeCARES mapped the area North of Lexington to the County line, which is more prone to severe weather events. We exercised direct communications by deploying amateur radio operators who setup and used portable radios and antennas. LeeCARES members were able to successfully communicate to the base station in Lincoln, TX through both the NE5DX and KD5BJ repeaters and also by simplex (without repeaters). Radio operators were able to mark on the map locations with poor or non-existent cell phone communications and test radio signal strength for communication purposes. The results were excellent: where cell reception was low or missing, the radio signal was strong into the base station in Lincoln.
Due to the changes implemented after the first exercise in April, such as antennas on 20 foot masts and methods that allowed fast and easy antenna set ups, communications between mobile units were greatly improved. However, mobile to mobile communications were still not at the level of proficiency desired for reliability.
The results of this exercise will assist LeeCARES to identify strategic locations for a 40 foot or higher permanent mast with antenna. This would allow mobile emergency responders to assist during a disaster, giving them more reliable communications within the affected community. Mobile emergency responders would be able to connect their equipment to it, and be operational in minutes during a disaster bringing solid communications between mobile units and to neighbors in a part of the County where no other communication is possible.
LeeCARES next steps will be:
- Repeat the exercise for other portions of the County
- Identify locations for possible future permanent antennas
- Explore future exercises to include different methods of communicating other than repeater and simplex.
- Continuing working on developing a method to erect an efficient antenna at the Lee County Emergency Operation Center or any location that may be used as a Command Post.
- Continuing developing communications via simplex, repeater, and other methods with adjacent and farther away counties.