LeeCARES participated in the Spring 2020 National American Red Cross (ARC)/ARES digital exercise on May 30, 2020. We sent ARC Forms ICS 6409s and ICS 213 through Winlink to the State Operation Center and to the Williamson County ARES (WC-ARES) Disaster Operation Center (DOC).
Winlink provides worldwide radio email using radio pathways where the internet is not present, and is capable of operating completely without the internet, allowing radio operators email with attachments, position reporting, weather and information bulletins, and is well-known for its role in interoperable emergency and disaster relief communications.
The scenario included a cyber attack that paralyzed commercial power and regular communications. During this drill, shelters (ham operators working from home) were simulated to be opened to be in need to transmit information back and forth with the county Disaster Operation Center (DOC), which communicated with the State Operation Center and then all the way to the regional and national levels.
The objectives of the exercise were to foster relationship and collaboration between ARC and ARES, and train together sending ARC forms through ham radio equipment and Winlink according to established ARC-ARES Memorandum of Understanding.
All together Texas participated in the exercise with 178 participants, 26 of which are volunteers fro both ARC and ARES. The majority of operators transmitted on emergency power simulating a total blackout of power and communications. Emergency power consisted mostly of batteries and generators. Texas operators sent 180 ARC Forms ICS 6409s and over 60 ARC ICS 213s.
All three Texas ARC regions and all three ARES Texas sections participated, for a total of 21 counties.
Bands used were Packet P2P (Person to Person) and RMS, VARA FM P2P and RMS, VARA HF, Pactor 3 (80M and 40M)
The exercise was the first national exercise with ARES and The American Red Cross. This test allowed all participants to evaluate various methods to get the message through, especially when normal communication methods are interrupted.