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Written by Bill Till   
Saturday, 10 May 2008 15:21

This exercise was part of the regular training and testing of the Emergency Preparedness organisation in Lloydminster, particularly the City personnel responsible for disaster response and  problem solution.  Thanks to the interest and knowledge of the City officials of the capability of amateur radio operators in emergency communication, our SARC group is always included in these exercises.  This year we had a new weapon in our arsenal, a UHF repeater on a midtown tower shared with repeaters of the City Public Works department and the Lloydminster Public School Division bus and maintenance despatch.

The scenario was very realistic and confusing as it would be in a real event.  The high school drama club provided simulated vicitms and other actors and many other services took part including fire, ambulance, RCMP, railway police, EMTs, city workers and amateur radio operators.  The simulation was that a very mentally disturbed individual hijacked a school bus full of students and while driving at high speed and erratically, struck a railway tank car of diesel fuel on a crossing.  The bus was found on its side with many injured students inside and the tank car leaking large amounts of diesel fuel over the scene.  911 was called and when the RCMP and emergency people responded, they first had to deal with the deranged man who had taken a girl hostage with a knife at her throat, then they had to handle the fuel leak before it was safe to start treating and rescuing the crash vicitms. 

 At this point a further complication was thrown in.  In the crash, the car of diesel fuel had collided with a car of anhydrous ammonia that was venting deadly gas over the scene so it was necessary to determine from the weather office at the airport the present and predicted winds so responders could approach the gas cloud properly and evacuate citizens from the predicted affected area.

On scene very quickly was the City Fire Department's Incident Command bus with its two way radio facilities for all services including two amateur radioi operators with their new UHF portables.  This gave the Incident Commander the resources he needed to control the situation and to keep in touch with all services and the main Emergency Operations Centre that had been set up at City Hall. One of the emphasized features was the regular release of information to the public through an on scene Public Information Officer who was also in touch with the EOC via amateur radio.

It was judged in the post-event debriefings to have been very successful, that the training to date had been effective and it had brought out the areas where further training and investment in resources is necessary.  It was quickly found that the cellphone network is not to be trusted in time of emergency and that their own radio networks are so busy that amateur radio becomes a very valuable and reliable asset in handling messages in a timely manner.

SARC operators  called out at the start of the exercise via our telephone tree and our wide area VHF repeater were; Ron VE6SJA, Bill VE5FN, Len VE5WI, Sharon VE5BAP, Jim VA6NJK, Tony VE6MVP, Ann VE5ANN, Bernard VE5ZQ plus Clara VE5CMQ, Russell VE5RSL on standby with several others available later if the situation warranted.  The UHF repeater turned out to be extremely valuable and gave us a good clear channel dedicated to the emergency.

 

Here are some pictures and video clips taken by Jim VA6NJK during the 8 May 2008 EMO exercise with the City of Lloydminster response teams.

Click HERE for pictures

And below

 for video clip #1

and

 

for video clip #2

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 March 2009 16:35