I'm planning for a local Section Emergency Test (SET) to be conducted soon ... likely in the mid to late December timeframe. What we'd like to do with this is (of course) exercise our voice net capabilities to give us a bit of needed practice in handling and forwarding messages to / from agencies that would likely require the same in the event of a disaster. .... But additionally, to come up to par with what ARES sections are doing across the nation, we need to also develop the capacity to handle messages digitally - and by that I mean via WinLink and NBEMS / FLDigi. Updates will appear here as things progress.
There has been a LOT of activity in this vein across ARES nationally in the past month or two. WinLink training videos (along with many other excellent and useful topics) are now available for free via Vimeo (video) to be viewed at users' convenience. Also, you've all seen the offerings going on right now from the New Hampshire Training Academy ... which have produced some great feedback!
But while training is great, PRACTICE is the key determinant of our abilities. To this end, our plan is to setup additional nets for practice handling digital messaging, and some additional exercises (beyond just check - ins) for voice nets. To do this we need participants ... which we have a good share of for our HF voice nets, but to a lesser extent for UHF / VHF repeater and simplex nets. MUCH testing has been done recently to determine our capacity for cross - county communications on HF, and VHF digital operations (digital VARA FM via 6 meter repeater, for ex.) and for simplex on VHF. Work will continue in these areas. The VHF / UHF repeater capacity should be back to its original capabilities in the near future also, so hopefully the VHF/UHF net participation will increase.
If you have digital capability already ( HF and / or VHF ) and would like to become part of the proposed digital messaging networks, please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) . If you don't have the experience but would like to get involved, that's great ! We have some pretty good startup documents to help you and will offer short Zoom classes to finalize your capabilities .... even one on one if needed !
Anyone with solid digital messaging experience would be welcome to help train others to come on board! Those with traffic handling expertise are also needed to get users up to speed on how messages should be passed to existing NTS traffic nets as that would be a probable conduit in a large scale disaster.
Simply, there has recently been much work done towards reviving the ARES capabilities of WMA. I believe we are now ready to start moving forward - simply at first - but engaging additional capabilities and technologies as we ready ourselves to meet the needs of our healthcare partners, agencies, and communities
The only thing missing is you !
P.S. . Several Worcester area stations have already volunteered for helping with additional testing ... my apologies but due to an email error I have lost the specifics on those of you who already contacted me! Please resend - thanks.