Amateur radio operators to conduct test
The Oregon Amateur Radio Emergency Service will conduct a challenging simulated emergency test on Thursday, Nov. 8.The test is unique as it will be the first conducted in Deschutes County with a large geographic spread of the stations from the Sisters-Camp Sherman area south to La Pine.
Ham radio groups involved in emergency communications are encouraged to participate in the event so the radio operators become familiar with all of the procedures used to assist government agencies during disasters. The drills also ensure all of the radio stations and computer networks provided by the hams are fully functional.
Locally, the Deschutes County Amateur Radio Emergency Service/Auxcomm conducts several of the tests every year in addition to providing communications for major public events in which no other form of communication is available.
According to Donald Shurtleff, public information officer for the service, "The systems we build and maintain for Deschutes County are complex, involving both voice and digital communications that must cover all of Oregon."
"Because these systems must be able to work without commercial power or internet connections, we have a lot of things we must test during these drills, in addition to learning the message handling procedures used by public safety agencies," he said.
A different theme is chosen for each drill and then a scenario is created requiring the ham operators to provide the communications.
This year's theme involves a fictitious bird flu that quickly spreads, resulting in interstate quarantines. Under the scenario, the resulting panic overloads the internet and causes the 911 system to fail.
Oregon Amateur Radio Emergency Service is then activated and begins providing communications for emergency services.
The agencies participating in Thursday's drill include Deschutes County Amateur Radio Emergency Service/Auxcomm, Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Emergency Management, and the Central Oregon Amateur Radio EmComm Team from La Pine.