EXERCISE EXERCISE EXERCISE
At exactly 9:00am on May 3, 2017 a significant earthquake centered near Powell River shakes up what would otherwise be a normal west coast spring day. The shaking is wide-spread - up and down the coast communities are immediately on alert for potential injuries, tsunami, and damage.
Cellular and land-line communications appear to be disrupted or overloaded
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center soon issues a welcome notification: no tsunami or tidal inundation is expected along the Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon coasts.
Even as that bit of good news is digested, early reports of minor damage to buildings and some roadways raise concerns about the evolving picture. Cellular and land-line communications appear to be disrupted or overloaded by massive numbers of citizens inside and outside the earthquake zone checking in on one another.
Timely information is on everyone’s priority list
It appears Metro Vancouver has not completely escaped the reach of the shaking earth’s movement, and citizens and emergency response officials alike are concerned. Obtaining timely information is on everyone’s priority list.
At the same time volunteers trained to provided backup communications in times of emergency or disaster are readying themselves to respond. This scenario is one they’ve planned for and even though it feels a bit surreal to be confronted with this situation, training propels them forward. First they’ll assure that their family and friends are safe and looked after. Only then these volunteers of VECTOR, the Vancouver Emergency Telecommunications Organization, will follow emergency activation protocols.
An Amateur Radio net, a method of controlling over-the-air information gathering and dispatch, organically springs to life on a pre-designated frequency. Teams are soon organized to deploy to designated positions around the city.
This will be a day none soon forget…
The forgoing might be a scenario we all face one day so we plan, prepare and practice.
On Wednesday May 3 VECTOR will join a number of other Metro Vancouver and Island municipalities and regions in an emergency communications exercise, one of a series of exercises we’ll participate in leading up to a large scale integrated exercise down the road.
Member interest in SWEEPER has been tremendous - thank you all for indicating your availability. On Tuesday this week working with City of Vancouver Office of Emergency Management staff we’ve laid out a master scenario of events and over the coming week scenario injects and mock messages will be developed. Soon we’ll be in in touch to layout the plan and give everyone an opportunity to sign up for various positions in the exercise.