By Zach Neuhaus – KD2AEL
It was like a normal day on the Suffolk County Radio Club repeater W2DQ 145.210. Joe W2OFD and I were just having our normal everyday conversation.
That is, until station AC2IS (Red Cross) came on the repeater and said “emergency”. At that point, we turned the frequency over to the Red Cross for emergency traffic.
As it turned out, the Red Cross was performing an unexpected drill from FRES EOC in Yaphank, NY. Bill AC2IS from the Red Cross was on the air looking for Ham Radio operators to help with relaying messages for the duration of the simulated emergency. Joe W2OFD immediately responded to the call and then passed it over to me as he was unable to assist at that moment.
Since I am trained in communications as a Coast Guard Auxiliary I took control of the drill. I relayed and logged all the necessary information about the drill and the schools that would be set up as Red Cross shelters in the event of a true disaster. The logged information was then relayed over to the Brookhaven Town ARES Member Vinny KC2WPP for further communication within the Brookhaven ARES group.
After the drill ended, I was talking with Bill AC2IS during his drive home. Bill said that the Red Cross may use the W2DQ repeater during future surprise drills and the Red Cross will again seek out Ham Radio and ARES volunteers.
I personally think these drills are great as they provide a way to test and improve all aspects of communication during unexpected incidents.
During the course of any emergency we must remember to act in a professional manner. Be prepared to stop your QSO and acknowledge the emergency traffic at hand. Then stand down from normal repeater operation until the emergency traffic has ended and repeater operation is turned back to normal Amateur Radio communications.
Overall, I thought the drill went very well. In my opinion, JoeW2OFD and I worked in a professional manner for the duration of the drill. It is drills such as these which are badly needed and overlooked within the local area.
I want to especially thank my friend Joe W2OFD for filling in where I missed copying information. We worked very well as Ham Radio operators in a team effort.