From Pigeon Point to High Point to Fauntleroy, three local Emergency Communication Hubs will be participating in a drill this Saturday morning, 8:30-noon – to prepare for something everyone hopes will never happen. And you can help! We’ve mentioned it a few times before, and here’s the official announcement:
Imagine there is a major power blackout covering Seattle and the metro area. There is no cellular phone service. No one knows the cause of the outage or knows when power and cell service may be restored. Emergency generators at hospitals and other essential service providers can only last as long as there is fuel. How would the region communicate?
This is the scenario behind the “Power Out, No Bars” exercise that Seattle ham radio operators and designated emergency Hub volunteers throughout the City will be testing. The Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), a volunteer organization operating under the auspices of the Seattle Office of Emergency Management, and the Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs, a grass-roots, neighborhood network of community members, will jointly conduct the citywide communications exercise.
The drill simulates the day after an unexplained failure of grid power and cellular service, with no updates on when either would be restored. Because the Hubs are the major residential and business resources for neighborhoods, situational awareness, resource coordination, and communications between the Hubs, ACS, and the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) are critical.
The key goals of the exercise are:
*Activate several neighborhood Communication Hubs and Seattle ACS, emphasizing reliable, efficient, accurate message management and documentation. Exercise participants will use voice as well as data communications via radio, throughout the city.
*Demonstrate, practice, and assess the ability to communicate up and down the various levels of the response structure, based on the Incident Command System (ICS), which spells out a hierarchical, yet flexible, means of managing emergency situations.
*Build strong working relationships among Emergency Communication Hub members and ACS members, through team problem solving and practice.
In an event such as the one this exercise portrays, the neighborhood Hubs would mobilize to assist with the immediate needs of residents, especially those who may need emergency services. The ACS would also have activated shortly after the scope of the outage was known, with sector sites around the city providing situation reports and helping coordinate emergency and logistical responses.
“In a citywide or regional event, people will need to go to neighborhood gathering places to find access to information and start matching resources and skills to what is needed” said Cindi Barker of West Seattle, one of Seattle’s Hub Captains.
“Power Out, No Bars is the latest in a series of emergency exercises that have helped our membership continually hone their skills and upgrade, deploy, and test their equipment,” said Mark Sheppard, founder and director of ACS. “This is critical to improving our ability to be more effective and be better prepared to face a real emergency or natural disaster.
Here are the West Seattle hubs participating:
*Pigeon Point Hub, 20th Ave SW & SW Genesee St
*High Point Hub at Neighborhood House, 6400 Sylvan Way SW
*Fauntleroy United Church of Christ Hub, 9140 California Ave SW
You are invited to stop by and observe, or participate, 9 am-noon Saturday. For more background info – West Seattle’s hubs are explained here; the citywide hubs here; you can find out more about Amateur Radio here.