ARRL New England Division Helps FEMA Test Message Distribution

Chris Swisher

ARRL New England Division Helps FEMA Test Message Distribution

The ARRL New England Division recently helped the Massachusetts Task Force 1 (MA-TF1) FEMA Urban Search & Rescue (FEMA US&R) team test message distribution in the event of a total communications failure.

Using the National Traffic System (NTS), nearly 250 radiograms were routed through the system. Charles Rocheleau, W1CPR, a FEMA Communications Specialist for the MA-TF1, said the alerts were the real thing. "The alerts I sent out were real-world alerts as the task force, MA-TF1 FEMA US&R, was on standby for a deployment to Kentucky," he said. "Steve Hansen, KB1TCE, runs a digital hub in Owls Head, Maine, and was my go-to person for injecting these messages quickly into the [NTS]."

Marcia Forde, KW1U, an active traffic handler in the NTS since 1981, said she received an alert that 40 messages were being sent from W1CPR. "I alerted key Maine traffic handlers to be ready, and these folks did a fantastic job of getting them out," she stated. "All 40 messages were handled in one day."

Phil Temples, K9HI, Vice Director of the ARRL New England Division, said the NTS and all amateur radio operators involved did a great job passing the messages.

As Boone County is home to Missouri Task Force 1, and might need assistance notifying rescuers in an emergency - How many of us are ready for an immediate  influx of 40 NTS messages? The Task Force is comprised of 210 personnel on three teams, a need for notifying 70 people of a disaster that may have disrupted local communications is a real possibility for the local groups. These notifications are often followed by an acknowledgement by the member that they are enroute, doubling the number of messages within a very short time. Something to think about... Stay safe -K0PHP