Today was RACES Exercise with Simulated Traffic 13-11. In the exercise, we were supposed to call up a net, contact as many other stations as possible using both voice and digital modes (QSO party style), and send a list of all of our contacts back to net control via voice or digital. In East Contra Costa County, things didn’t exactly go as planned.
The net was called up by John KN6SQ with Lou N6VV co-located on top of the hill at Willow Pass that separates Central and East county. It’s a decent location that can hear most of East county. Initially, I was the only one that checked in. It wasn’t until the county emergency notification system was activated that others got on the radio and checked into the net. I think we had a total of 6 stations. We usually have a few more than that for these exercises.
After a while, John was getting us ready for the QSO party activity. He called for participants to come back to him. I gave a call back as did one other station, but it would seem he didn’t hear us. I’m not sure why (too many other radios in the background or the volume was turned down maybe), but after trying to call him back a couple of times, I gave up. I waited around a while to see if he would come back, but he never did. I dug out his phone number and gave him a call. Turns out, he had thought everyone had left, so he gave his status to the county Office of Emergency Services (OES) and was instructed to shut down the net if there were no longer any participants, so he did.
A bit disappointing, but this is why we train, to figure out where communications breakdowns happen and what we can do to mitigate them so they aren’t a problem in an emergency. Will be interesting to hear the debrief next week from East county operators and to hear how things went in other sections of the county.