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Amateur radio readiness to be tested in western Connecticut this week

Formal preparation counts whenever natural disaster strikes
Formal preparation counts whenever natural disaster strikes
Photobucket / Csengeri http://s300.photobucket.com/user/Csengeri/profile/

Practice, it's been said, makes perfect.

That's why ham radio operators across ARES Region 5 will staff their emergency operation centers (EOCs) on Saturday, August 9, to make sure towns and cities can interact with each other in the event of disaster.

ARES is the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, a volunteer organization of hams trained to assist first responders and agencies such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army with communications when needed.

In this post-911 era, ARES is considered part of the state emergency response plan, under the larger umbrella of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security.

To view the official Connecticut disaster management plan, click here.

Today's ARES communicators must be well trained and understand their place in a formalized and structured system, officials say.

Freelancing - though well intentioned - is no longer welcome and considered a liability.

Connecticut has five ARES regions, which exactly match the state emergency management regions.

Region 5 is a mix of small towns in Litchfield and New Haven counties, plus the cities of Torrington, New Milford, Waterbury and Danbury.

Some ARES groups have close relationships with the emergency managers of their cities and towns (Torrington, Winchester and New Milford), while others (Waterbury) have none at all, depending on past practice and local politics.

For this exercise, the main control point will be at the Winchester EOC, while Region 5 North control stations will operate in Goshen and Warren, and Region 5 South control will be in Newtown, Prospect and New Fairfield.

Each EOC will attempt to contact every other EOC on three different radio bands: 144 MHz (two meters); 54 MHz (six meters) and 7 Mhz (40 meters in the shortwave "HF" band.)

This exercise will be one of the first to test new ICOM IC-7000 all-band radios that have been installed in each municipal EOC.