This is a drill, this is ONLY a drill…

You are not under attack. I repeat, you are NOT under attack.  Just wanted to make that clear right up front in case you hear some amateur radio traffic tomorrow morning that sounds like all kinds of mayhem is in progress. Relax, it’s just Seattle’s semi-annual all-city preparedness drill running from 9:00 am until around noon.

Wallingford’s central communication hub at Meridian Playfield (look for a couple of white pop-up tents near the Bagley Ave entrance to the playfield) and Fremont’s hub at the History House courtyard will be activated for North Central Seattle. Eight other neighborhood based hubs will be activated in other parts of the city, both north and south of the ship canal.

You are invited to participate in one of the staffing roles – we’ll train you on the spot – or stop by to act as a community member that would come to the hub for help in an actual emergency. Just walk up, pick a “mis-fortune” out of the fishbowl of disasters, local needs or resources, and help run the hub site staff through their paces. If you don’t feel like participating, just bring a picnic brunch and enjoy the show! Here’s the official press release for the event:

SIMULATED TERRORISM ATTACKS MOBILIZE SEATTLE NEIGHBORHOODS FOR EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PREPAREDNES TRAINING

Neighborhoods across Seattle twice a year practice surviving disasters which typically include winter storms and earthquakes.  This Spring the focus is in on surviving a terrorist attack.  A simulated catastrophic terrorism event draws Seattle Community Hubs and Ham Radio operator’s together, forming emergency radio networks, linking communities to the City’s Emergency Operations Center for communication information to support response and recovery efforts.  This training exercise is scheduled for this Saturday May 19th beginning at 9:00 AM and ending at approximately 11:30 AM.

Over 75 neighborhood residents trained in disaster preparedness will take part in the exercise that is designed to simulate the disruption and damage to infrastructure including power, communications networks and transportation. These simulated attacks will be against both physical structures and cyber systems.

Seattle Auxiliary Communications Services (ACS), a program of the Seattle Office of Emergency Management, is a team of amateur radio operators trained in emergency communications.  This team will field approximately 40 Ham Radio operators to support six communities and the Seattle EOC.  Their mission is to handle emergency radio messages based on simulated failure of telephone and Internet systems.

In the scenario for the drill, terrorist bombs destroy critical facilities and Internet Cyber attacks shuts down the Seattle area electrical power grid, disrupts 911 service, overloads municipal communications systems and damages the Internet.  Cell phones and Land line become unusable and then a second round of attracts occur.  Telephone communications to area medical facilities and hospitals are shut down.

“Preparing for any terrorist attack is a very sensitive issue, but the reality is there is a possibility of it occurring. We want to provide a learning experience, a classroom for volunteers participating in this drill to help them prepare should a real event occur” said Mark Sheppard, Seattle ACS Director and member of the exercise planning team for this event.

The objective of the exercise in part is to establish radio communications centers at Community Hub sites, using hand held civilian licensed radios throughout the city.  Then assisted by Ham Radio Operators from the Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service provide two-way Amateur Radio communication links with Seattle’s EOC.

Once radio communications networks are established, part of the training will include Hub Sites receiving information from the EOC about major issues such as disruption to transportation and other services  and then providing the channel for distributing that information to households in the neighborhoods.  Also Neighborhood Hubs will be advised to be on the lookout for terrorist activities involving Seattle’s transportation system and attacks on infrastructure, as well as reporting assessments to the City for simulated serious personal injuries and property damage occurring in their neighborhoods as part of the preparedness training.

In addition to the Hub Sites, Seattle medical facilities and hospitals impacted by the simulated telephone disruption are assisted by Ham Radio volunteers from the King County Medical Service Team, providing emergency Ham Radio Communications between medical facilities and the Seattle EOC.  Other organizations and teams participating in this drill include the King County Health Department Reserve Corps, Red Cross and Shoreline ACS.

Ham radio is incorporating new technologies to increase efficiency and accuracy of emergency communications.  During this exercise, Ham Radio operators will use digital communications systems that tie portable computers and radios together to transmit written documents and photograph by radio.  This mode of operation will be used by all the hubs for the first time during this exercise in addition to traditional voice communications.

Seattle ACS Ham Radio volunteers train for assisting in reporting and handling neighborhood emergency messaging to and from the City using Amateur Radio networks.  Ham Radio provides a valuable resource to assist Seattle in emergency and recovery response when needed during emergencies when normal channels of communications are compromised or overwhelmed.

The Community Preparedness Hub program is a neighborhood based effort sponsored and developed by community organizations, supported by the Seattle Office of Emergency Management.  Participating in the exercise are Community Hubs in West Seattle, Magnolia-Queen Anne, Wallingford-Freemont, Wedgwood, Maple Leaf and Broadview. This is a growing program that will eventually include a majority of all Seattle neighborhoods.

Seattle ACS, is a group of Volunteer Ham Radio Licensed Operators that serve the Seattle Office of Emergency Management in time of need and public service.  ACS members have a monthly training meeting and participate in weekly ham radio network communications.

For more information about preparedness and amateur radio – please visit:

Seattle Emergency Management:  http://www.seattle.gov/emergency/default.htm

West Seattle Be Prepared:  http://westseattle.bepreparedseattle.info

Seattle Auxiliary Communications Services:  http://www.seattleacs.com

Western Washington Medical Service Team:  http://ww7mst.org

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