Here's a good overview of my experience participating during this winters simulated emergency test Winter Fury. This SET simulated a massive winter storm in our area that closed all major roadways and caused a vast amount of chaos including interrupting normal modes of communication. Don't worry though, ham radio to the rescue!
This years winter SET simulated a snow storm that dropped a ton of snow quickly over the Blue Ridge mountains of Southwest Virginia and North Carolina. This cause all roads, including the two major interstates near by to become difficult to traverse or impassable. For a more precise description of the SET, have a look at W4GHS's webpage about it here.
We had a lot of agencies participating. Everyone from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to local search and rescue groups and hospitals. This years SET was well attended.
As part of our AUXCOM groups RED Team (Rapid Emergency Deployment), I was assigned the local hospital as my served agency. The hospitals in this area are part of an organization called SWVAHPC or Southwest Virginia Hospital Preparedness Commission who have a Emergency Operation Center setup to handle hospital resources during a disaster. This would be one of my main contacts during this SET, along with my RED team leader and VDEM.
The hospital I was assigned had gear that was purchased quite a while ago and included a commercial Motorola transceiver connected to some kind of two meter antenna system on the roof. I could tell it hasn't been used much.
Most of the traffic to be sent was going to be Winlink messages since this is a quick, easy, and reliable way of sending messages back and forth. However, I knew I wouldn't be able to rig the commercial radio to work for this task in the time specified for the set. I decided to try a few new things.
|Tram 1185 Mag Mount Antenna|
My original plan was to leave the hospitals existing equipment untouched and use it to participate in the voice net while using my primary laptop connected to an HT to send Winlink messages through the digipeater in the truck. This didn't work very well. Even though I had parked the truck in close proximity, the walls were still too thick to allow my handheld's signal through.
|Baofeng UV-5re with Easy Digi Interface|
|Laptop running Winlink Express and UZ7HO Sound Modem|