Essex County Amateur Radio Operators, RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services) and ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) members participated in the Nationwide Emergency Communications Simulated Emergency Test on the weekend prior to Super Storm Sandy arriving.
The ARRL (American Radio Relay League) Simulated Emergency Test (SET) is a nationwide exercise in emergency communications, administered by ARRL Emergency Coordinators and Net Managers. RACES, ARES and the National Traffic System (NTS) are involved. The SET gives communicators the opportunity to focus on the emergency communications capability within their community while interacting with NTS nets.
The purpose of SET is to find out the strengths and weaknesses of RACES, ARES, NTS and other groups in providing emergency communications; to provide a public demonstration to served agencies such as Red Cross, Emergency Management and through the news media of the value to the public that Amateur Radio provides, particularly in time of need; and to help radio amateurs gain experience in communications using standard procedures and a variety of modes under simulated- emergency conditions.
This test motivated Amateur Radio Operators to get on the air to verify that their equipment or the radio equipment located at their County Emergency Operations Centers and other facilities was working and to practice operating that equipment under simulated emergency conditions. It also demonstrated that volunteer emergency radio communicators have the ability to provide backup and supplement radio communications for a large regional disaster area.
The HF radio nets were established and conducted completely independent of any communications infrastructure such as telephone lines, cell towers, internet connections or radio repeaters. Most stations operating in the net also had backup emergency power. This means that if all else fails they can still communicate.
The SET was performed on numerous frequencies including the popular Whiteface Mountain Emergency Repeater, which covers a wide area of the North Country including St. Lawrence, Franklin, Hamilton, Clinton, Essex and parts of Vermont. This emergency repeater allows all of these counties Emergency Operations Centers to communicate with each other if other forms of communication fail.