Cascadia Rising, the largest FEMA exercise of 2016, will get under way on June 7, and Oregon and Washington ARES/RACES organizations both will be heavily involved, with a significant investment of HF activity planned. The scenario will be an earthquake and tsunami disaster involving the entire Pacific Northwest, and the exercise will start with a blackout of all normal, regular communication systems. Emergency/disaster alternate communication systems will be provided by Amateur Radio, and participants will include Maxim Memorial Station W1AW at ARRL Headquarters.
The initial plan calls for W1AW to be active and monitoring, and possibly passing traffic, if necessary, W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, said. ARRL Emergency Response Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said Cascadia Rising will also involve the Emergency Response Team at ARRL Headquarters.
“Along with on participation via Winlink and HF voice, we will use it as an opportunity to exercise the ARRL Headquarters Emergency Response Team,” Corey said. “This team is called up to support the ARRL Field Organization during a major disaster, when support cannot be provided during normal business hours. The last activation of the team was during hurricane Irene in 2011.”
According to FEMA, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) and the resulting tsunami would be the most complex disaster scenario that emergency managers and public safety officials in the Pacific Northwest could face, and Cascadia Rising is an exercise to address that disaster. The exercise will conclude on June 10.
According to FEMA, emergency operations centers (EOCs) and emergency coordination centers (ECCs) at all levels of government and the private sector will activate to conduct simulated field response operations within their jurisdictions and with neighboring communities, state EOCs, FEMA, and major military commands. Both Washington and Oregon’s military departments will activate.
“Conducting successful life-saving and life-sustaining response operations in the aftermath of a Cascadia Subduction Zone disaster will hinge on the effective coordination and integration of governments at all levels — cities, counties, state agencies, federal officials, the military, tribal nations — as well as non-government organizations and the private sector,” FEMA said. “One of the primary goals of Cascadia Rising is to train and test this whole community approach to complex disaster operations together as a joint team.”
A Washington National Guard communications drill — “Exercise Vital Connection 2016” earlier this spring was a ramp-up to Cascadia Rising. The earlier exercise made use of the Amateur Radio 60 meter channels for civil authorities to interface with federal partners. — Thanks to John Core, KX7YT, Oregon ARES District 1 Emergency Coordinator for some information