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Ill. ARES to participate in Earthquake drill May 1

People in Southern Illinois will take action as an earthquake drill comes to the area (Source:...
People in Southern Illinois will take action as an earthquake drill comes to the area (Source: Pixabay)((Source: Pixabay))
Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 2:22 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KFVS) - Amateur radio operators across Illinois will be participating in a simulated earthquake training exercise on Saturday, May 1 that’s designed to hone their communication skills in the event a major earthquake hits the Illinois region, one that would damage or destroy its power and communications infrastructure.

In such circumstances, licensed amateur radio operators (also known as hams) would play a vital role because of their ability to pass along damage reports, observations, and other information to emergency responders by using battery and other alternate powered voice and digital systems common to amateur radio.

The Simulated Emergency Test or SET will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The public can learn more about the drill here.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the likelihood of a damaging earthquake (magnitude 6.3 or greater),occurring somewhere in the central United States within the next decade or so is 40 percent to 63 percent and 86 percent to 97 percent within the next 50 years.

Illinois is among 16 states with the highest risk for earthquakes.

It’s flanked on its western and eastern borders by two active seismic zones: the New Madrid Seismic Zone and the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone.

Participants in the May 1 drill are part of a nationwide network of licensed amateur radio operators who have been trained in emergency communication through ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service)-- a division of the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL)-- the nation’s largest association of licensed ham radio operators, and/or have taken the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s (IEMA) AUXCOMM (Auxiliary Communication) training program or both.

IEMA’s operations in Springfield include a ARES/AUXCOMM amateur radio station, NC9IL which will be employed as part of the May 1 exercise.

During the exercise, the pre-registered participants--in most cases based at their home stations--will be an integral part of a mock emergency scenario in which they will monitor broadcasts on ARES exercise frequencies in their area.

Notified of the frequencies in advance, they will be listening for messages from the person manning the “Net Control” station” in their area.

Starting at 10 a.m., the Net Control station operator will ask those participating in their area to “call in” (using their amateur radio license identifying call sign) and give their geographical location followed by a simulated “situational report” on their current status (power out, cell phone and internet service down, explosions in the distance, ground shaking, sirens still wailing).

During the three-hour drill, the net control operator will issue instructions that will test how participants would respond to several different communications tasks based on simulated “injects” -- mock scenarios that could range from transmitting a local request for state assistance from a local hospital through the NC9IL, to contacting a downstream lock or dam operator to halt river traffic because of earthquake damage.

In sending messages by voice or digitally, participants will announce “this is a simulated drill” at the start and end of each message.

The names of geographical locations and buildings have been changed to avoid public confusion should they over hear the broadcast.

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