Union County, Oregon
ARES Spring 2021 SET
After Action Report
Participating Union County Operators:
Prepared by: Jason Fouts W7JSN 04/19/2021
The Spring 2021 SET had no overarching event scenario and was intended to call on and utilize any available resources for the efficient exchange of accurate traffic with a focus on 6 and 10 Meters.
- Mobilize ARES according to the Activation Plan.
- County ARES Unit to check in with Oregon Section and Adjacent County ARES Units.
- Monitor and establish nets as needed for voice and digital communications according to the Union County Plan.
- Efficiently pass accurate traffic to intended recipients. Log all communications.
- Focus on communications using the 6M & 10M bands.
What Went Well
- Local mobilization was achieved within 10 minutes of initial alert being sent.
- County frequencies were monitored throughout the exercise
- Traffic was exchanged accurately.
- Operators were able and willing to change to duties on the fly.
- We had an operator posted at a high altitude, low noise location who also proved to be a valuable relay for the 3.964 Net.
What Needs Improvement
- Clear definition of who the OEM representative is.
- Overall SET planning & Band focus
- Portable repeaters
- Local documentation accessible to operators such as clear plans and contact information.
- ARES was called to action using the AlertSense priority messaging service asking operators to tune to 146.520 simplex for further instruction. Within 10 minutes of the initial alert, desired frequencies were being monitored by an assigned operator.
- Union County was checked in with the Oregon Section and all adjacent counties except Wallowa within 30 minutes of activation. Wallowa County did not participate during this exercise. This is the only objective we did not fully meet.
- Nets were established and monitored on designated frequencies and modes.
- Traffic appears to have been exchanged accurately, but some logs were not maintained accurately.
- No 6M/10M contact was made outside of the county.
Observations and Clarifications
Union County only had six operators in play for this SET. Three of which were posted in the EOC for training.
Operators responded very quickly to the initial call and immediately started monitoring.
Training in the EOC proved effective, but might be more appropriate for our own local exercises in order to better focus on statewide tasks during SET. Our local exercises should be adjusted to better allow for this especially if the state starts assigning tasks.
The RF noise level at the EOC was exceptionally high during this exercise and we had to rely heavily on our few remote operators which proved very effective.
Having an operator posted at higher elevation and miles away from power lines proved to be very effective. This operator proved to be a valuable relay not only locally, but for other entities around the state. Unfortunately we could not reliably reach him directly via VHF, and had to rely mostly on our HF frequencies which were busy with the state/county exchanges. This could be resolved with functioning portable crossband repeaters.
We attempted to use portable crossband repeaters to communicate with our high elevation operator but were unsuccessful due to lack of preparation. For efficiency, portable crossband repeaters should be pre-programmed, tested, and ready to go with predefined sets of frequencies. These portable repeaters were slapped together last minute with only on-hand resources including compromised antennas and batteries that might have lasted an hour with light use.
Traffic was accurately exchanged, but was not all properly logged due to lack of instruction by local leadership. This was a failure of the local Emergency Coordinator by not providing clear instruction and prior training. We should be using the ICS-309 Communications Log. For readability, it is also encouraged to use the digital version included with Winlink , or fillable pdf whenever available. While it is easy to digitally log all communications, it is a requirement to accurately log any traffic passed even if on paper.
Tasks were reassigned a few times during the SET due to our limited number of operators. Everyone was able to adjust to their revised tasks efficiently.
As expected, the 6M & 10M bands were not at all effective for getting outside of our county. In addition to the line of sight limitations presented locally, conditions for those bands did not even seem to be effective for DX during the operational period.
Local leadership needs to work to improve weekly exercise to better practice for expectations during an event. While we have established known frequencies and modes for reliable communication inside and outside the county, we have not been practicing established methods for logging.
Local leadership needs to provide better documentation in the EOC including valid neighbor EOC callsigns, as well as email address and email@example.com for VIP’s.
Operators need to know how to reach OEM. Previously it was W7OEM over Winlink or on 3.964 MHz. Lately it seems to be a different callsign for every exercise. If OEM is not going to play, they should designate a representative to use the callsign.
As with some previous exercises, local leadership focused too much on trying to plan an effective exercise, and ran out of time only to fail. Instead, local leadership should focus on having the local operators ready to jump into action when called.
For effective statewide exercise, the tasks should be planned at the State level rather than 36 individual counties doing different things. While overarching SET scenarios have not been of any interest over the last couple years, we at the same time lost an overall set of task assignments.
This SET was an overall success for the local operators. While we lacked in some areas, we excelled in more, while finding several areas to improve.
Thank you all who participated!
|Deschutes||1 out – 1 in||1||1|
|Morrow||1 out – 1 in||1||1|
|Union||Local – 6 operators active|