ARES teams from five Florida counties took part in a February 24 exercise at the St Lucie Nuclear Power Plant on Hutchinson Island in Jensen Beach. The plant is required to hold a exercise every 2 years to test and evaluate the responses of plant personnel, law enforcement, emergency managers, and communication personnel in the event of an emergency, such as a radiation release. The exercises are evaluated by personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The 2016 scenario involved overloaded and unusable public telecommunication systems. In a real emergency, ARES volunteers would provide radio communication among the county emergency operations centers and other critical entities and locations.
ARES teams participated from St Lucie, Palm Beach, Martin, Indian River, and Brevard counties. Operators successfully employed the linked UHF repeater-based Statewide Amateur Radio Network (SARnet) for most communication, as well as an HF net on 7.245 MHz. The dual nets provided for redundancy and reliability for the ARES mission to support the EOCs. SARnet serves the State of Florida; it’s interconnected by a Florida Department of Transportation network.
All ARES communication tests and requirements were successfully passed and met, and evaluators praised the use of dual nets for enhanced reliability. Martin County ARES also had a display of Go-Kits. A FEMA representative visited with ARES EC Steve Marshall, WW4RX, who discussed the kits and answered questions about SARnet and its coverage. — Thanks to the ARRL ARES E-Letter