Amateur radio lights up Dark Sky: Local operators prepare for long-term, mass outages
For the Rapids City Times
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Amateur radio operators from central Wisconsin participated in the Wisconsin Emergency Management’s Dark Sky drill May 15-17. Wood County Amateur Radio Emergency Services Emergency Coordinator Mike Krohn of Wisconsin Rapids and Assistant Emergency Coordinators Tom Loock of Wisconsin Rapids and Myron Oestreich of Junction City were among a team of operators that staffed the state amateur radio station at Wisconsin Emergency Management in Madison for this event. Operators were also stationed at Fox Valley Technical College in Grand Chute to provide communications.
Per Wisconsin Emergency Management, Dark Sky was a full-scale training exercise that simulated long term mass power outages throughout the state. The intent of the exercise was to test the abilities of private utilities, law enforcement, first responders and the Wisconsin National Guard to respond to events of this nature. All told, approximately 1,000 people participated in the exercise.
The communications aspect of the operation was simple – when phone and internet sources failed the hope was for players outside of Madison to turn to amateur radio to relay information to and from the State Emergency Operations Center at Wisconsin Emergency Management – and the exercise went exactly as hoped with amateur radio providing a seamless source of communications, handling radio traffic on multiple frequency sets and systems. Numerous pieces of radio traffic were received and sent by amateur operators at Wisconsin Emergency Management, which in turn helped keep the exercise flowing smoothly.
“The mantra of amateur radio has been ‘when all else fails’ for years,” said Krohn. “This exercise gave a prime opportunity for both Wisconsin Emergency Management and Wisconsin ARES/RACES to put this mantra to the test, and it worked beyond our wildest expectations. It was a great pleasure to work with Wisconsin Emergency Management on this exercise to see firsthand how strong and strategic the relationship is with amateur radio and Emergency Management.”
The amateur radio emergency services are overseen by the American Radio Relay League and are open to all licensed amateur radio operators. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.wrarclub.org, or check out Wood County ARES and the Mid-State Repeater Association on Facebook.