Cape Cod ARES After Action Report: EMA Simulated Emergency Test

The drill began for us at 10am. That was 1 hour later than the official start of the section SET. This was due to our operations plan having been completed before the Section plan was complete.

Cape Cod ARES dispatched 2 field teams. One was deployed to assist Sandwich Emergency Management office. The other was sent to the Lower Cape Regional Technical High School in Harwich MA…Communications were quickly established with K1PBO Cape cod ARES EOC and both teams via 2m FM simplex.

Communications were also quickly established via 40m NVIS on 7230khz (severe interference was observed from a slow scan TV Net on 7228kzh). NVIS signals were very strong even for such close range. Although CCARES has done this numerous times in our last 10 drills, the NVIS signals were the best we have encountered to date.

We attempted to initiate comms on 75m NVIS, but signals were very poor. It was certain that 40m would be the band of choice today. We were able to establish comms with our EC on Martha’s Vineyard Brad KB1QL on 40m. An attempt to establish communications with Region II on our liaison frequency of 147.465. Contact was unsuccessful.

Several NTS and tactical messages were exchanged between our field teams and CCARES EOC. We were able to fulfill envelope 1 by deploying team members to the Sandwich EM site. We were initially unable to successfully act on envelope #3 as a path had not been located.

Successful check-in was made to WC1MAB Region II anchoring the EMA/RI RACES Net on 7246khz. Signals were excellent.

An initial NTS message on current shelter status was sent to WC1MAB on 40m. We then learned that Region II had indeed heard us calling on the 2m liaison frequency (147.465)earlier. They could not get a sufficient signal back to us. Once a relay path was made, we were able to send an NTS message destined for W1MPN via 40m.

An NTS message was relayed to us from Central MA Red cross on the 40m Net(7246khz). We had contact with many stations on 40m NVIS(7230khz). Several RI EOCs checked in with us having super signals. Our local operations continued normally untill mid afternoon.

Participation of CCARES Members

Number of CCARES members participating in the Exercise: 12

W1RBF-%@!#%& (also Sandwich EM Director)

Modes and bands Used in Exercise
2m FM
2m SSB
6m FM
6m SSB
40m NVIS
40m Normal deploy
Packet Radio 2m

Number of Messages Passed
NTS format – 15
Tactical Messages – 24
NTS using packet radio – 3

Number of off Cape Stations Worked
40m – 7 stations

Operational Objectives
Deploy field teams – Successful
Logistical Resupply(Food) – Partially successful
Conduct NVIS operations with other off Cape stations – Extremely successful
Conduct all mode operation between fied teams and EOC – Extremely successful
Establish Contact to Region II on Simplex 2m FM – Unsuccessful* (warrants further technical investigation as we were unable to hear WC1MAB on 2m, but they could hear us)(we also worked other stations further away than WC1MAB on 2m FM with no difficulty)
Provide relief operators at the field sites – Successful

Observations and Analysis of Operations

1. The goal of getting numerous stations to play in the EMa Section, WMa Section and RI was well represented. It was good to see all those call signs in there.

2. 40m was incredibly reliable for this exercise. It is interesting to note that CCARES has observed the situation in which communications with just one station using an NVIS antenna can do well even if the other station is using normal antenna configurations. We have observed this concept in 6 of our last 10 drills. When we were communicating with WC1MAB on 40m, we were using a normal dipole at 45 feet. Signals were good. As we approached the end of the 40m Net on 7246khz, I conducted a test with WC1MAB (W3EVE as NCS). We switched our antenna to our NVIS 40 meter dipole (6′ off the ground with a counterpoise wire 5% longer underneath). Steve reported a dramatic signal increase after the switch(thanks Steve!). This is a great demonstration of how NVIS can be used for significant advantage.

I also want to take this opportunity to note the professionalism in operations by the RACES Region station operators. Net operations were done very effectively. I want to thank Steve W3EVE and Bob WA1OEZ for helping WC1MAB anchor the net. Great Job to all. My thanks to WMa SEC Dennis Zonia and also the RI groups who participated. We are also very lucky to have Mike W1MPN as our SEC here in the east. My desire was to see people get in the field to operate. I used to believe for years that I was prepared for field ops. That belief was shaken to the core after CCARES began our series of field drills shortly after the 9-11 attacks. You never realize just how unprepared you are until your operation ceases because you failed to bring a 50 cent item. After that, you never forget that item again. During our May 18th drill, we had downpours all day long with strong winds. I learned more from that drill than any other to date. I never would have learned those lessons without going out and experiencing it. It was great to see all you guys “in action” today. You should all be proud of yourselves for doing a great job today! My thanks to all who put in time and hard work to make the exercise possible.

73s and Happy Holidays to all!

Respectfully Submitted,
Frank WQ1O
Cape Area ARES DEC

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