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Scavenger Hunt Will Help Radio Operators Prepare For Terror Drill
The Day (New London, CT) ^ | 4 MAR 2005 | ROBERT A. HAMILTON

Posted on 03/06/2005 10:51:25 AM PST by Denver Ditdat

Amateur radio operators will take part in a scavenger hunt this weekend, seeking information rather than hub caps or cowboy hats, in an exercise designed to get them acquainted with Southeastern Connecticut before a major emergency drill next month.

Wayne Gronlund, who is coordinating the event, said he is trying to put together at least 50 amateur radio enthusiasts for TOPFF, a weeklong exercise that will include simulated terrorist attacks on ports in New London, New Jersey, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“We know we're not going to have enough amateur radio resources in New London County to provide all the support needed, so we'll be calling people from all over Connecticut, and possibly Massachusetts and Rhode Island,” said Gronlund, a retired Coast Guard captain and assistant district emergency coordinator for the Amateur Radio Emergency Service or ARES.

“Using a scavenger hunt as a mechanism, we'll send them around New London County to find key areas where they might end up providing support — or places they might have to stay away from because something is happening there,” Gronlund said. “The intent is to have fun, but also to get them familiar with the area.”

He said he hopes to bring in 20 to 25 teams of two or three people who will shuttle around the region in a car equipped with a mobile VHF-FM radio looking for 12 sites based on photographic clues and maps that they will be issued.

For instance, one of the clues directs them to a sign, and their assignment is to come up with the name inscribed on the building behind the sign.

TOPOFF, which stands for Top Officials, will take place April 4-10, involve up to 10,000 people and cost an estimated $16 million. It is the third drill of its kind, following one in Denver and Portsmouth, N.H., five years ago, and another in Chicago and Seattle last year. Details of the simulated attack are not being released.

Gronlund said TOPOFF officials have told him they will need about 25 radio operators at the peak of the exercise, but because they will be working in shifts, he will need at least 50, and would like to have 75.

Gronlund said there are between 800 and 1,000 radio operators licensed in New London County, but only about 40 have registered with ARES, “so even all of them would not be enough, and a good number of them are not going to be available because most of the exercise will take place during the work week.”

So in addition to appealing to local radio operators who are not part of ARES — including seven juniors at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy who just passed their Federal Communications Commission license examination — he has issued an appeal throughout the tri-state area for volunteers.

Gronlund said the work in TOPOFF will primarily involve coordinating communications for the Red Cross emergency relief efforts, “But we would be in a position to provide communications to any agency that needed it.”

Emergency responders often use cell phones, he said, but after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the cell phone network quickly became clogged through overuse.

Though the phone companies have gotten better at prioritizing calls, Gronlund said, “The bottom line is, when all else fails, you can fall back on emergency radio.”

The teams will register between 8:45 and 9:25 a.m. on Saturday at the Chesterfield Firehouse in the Oakdale section of Montville, undergo a briefing until 10:15 a.m., and then depart on the scavenger hunt at 10:30. Gronlund said someone familiar with the area could probably find all 12 sites on the route in about an hour, but the organizers have set a two-hour maximum for completing the tasks.

The team that answers most of the questions correctly wins, and in the event of a tie the contest goes to the team with the lowest time.

“Whoever has the best score gets bragging rights only — we're not giving out any prizes,” Gronlund said. And the teams will be warned: no speeding.

“We are not first responders,” Gronlund said. “We provide communications support, so there's no expectation for them to be anything but John Q. Citizen traveling between point A and point B.”

TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events; Technical; US: Connecticut; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: amateur; amateurradio; ares; drill; emergencyresponse; ham; hamradio; publicservice; radio; scavenger; scavengerhunt; test
This sounds like a fun way to train!
1 posted on 03/06/2005 10:51:40 AM PST by Denver Ditdat
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To: 1066AD; 1ofmanyfree; 230FMJ; A knight without armor; AlexW; ASOC; bd476; bigbob; bikerman; ...
Ham Radio Ping List

Please Freepmail me if you want to be added to or deleted from the list.

2 posted on 03/06/2005 10:52:35 AM PST by Denver Ditdat (Ronald Reagan belongs to the ages now, but we preferred it when he belonged to us.)
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To: Denver Ditdat


3 posted on 03/06/2005 10:54:33 AM PST by spodefly (This is my tag line. There are many like it, but this one is mine.)
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To: Denver Ditdat

16 million? Is there an aspect of this that I'm not getting? I know hams aren't getting any of it.

4 posted on 03/06/2005 10:59:58 AM PST by steveo (Member: Fathers Against Rude Television)
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To: Denver Ditdat

Any idea of the freqs they'll be using? It'd be something I could TRY picking up on the west coast.

5 posted on 03/06/2005 9:48:05 PM PST by Don W (Risk diminishes as our faith in our fellow man increases)
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To: Don W

I'm not sure, but I'd guess they'll be using either 2 meters (144 MHz) or 70cm (440 MHz). Unless they're linked into IRLP you won't be able to hear them.

6 posted on 03/06/2005 10:05:08 PM PST by Denver Ditdat (Ronald Reagan belongs to the ages now, but we preferred it when he belonged to us.)
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