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ARES District 1's Participation in Nationwide Red Cross Messaging Drill, a Success

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

Exercise Focused on Transmission of a Completed ICS-213 Message Form via Winlink.

MERRIVILLE, Ind. (Nov. 14, 2020) – Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) District 1 participated in the nationwide American Red Cross Emergency Communications Drill.

The focus of the exercise was for ARES and other Hams to demonstrate the ability to deliver the American Red Cross Incident Command System (ICS)-213 message form, filled in with certain information the exercise designers specified, from local sites using the Winlink digital messaging software to the Red Cross Divisional Clearinghouse for their geographic area. There were seven Divisional Clearinghouses, one for each of the six Red Cross Divisions, plus Hawaii.

Sending the ICS-213 form via Winlink could be accomplished on HF, VHF, UHF or even Telnet, making it possible for nearly any interested ARES member or other Ham to participate at any point during the nine-hour exercise window (from 0900 Local Eastern Time to 1800 Local in each time zone).

1,550 amateur radio operators in forty-seven states, plus Puerto Rico participated. A total of 1,750 messages were sent, including those from Hams in Venezuela and Canada. ARES District 1’s participation was the only ARES or non-ARES Ham participation in the exercise from the geographical area covered by Indiana District 1 and the adjoining Districts 2 and 4.

ARES District 1 Exercise Participant Station Shown in Yellow. Other ARES and Ham Stations in Purple, Blue and Red.

“Our success during this exercise demonstrates our ability to serve the needs of the American Red Cross’ Northwest Chapter which covers all of ARES District 1’s geographical area, plus 11 additional counties. It’s a large area,” said Joe Cirone, Indiana ARES District 1 coordinator.

“Members of ARES District 1 have a special relationship with the Red Cross Northwest Chapter, as the Lake County Amateur Radio Club’s VHF-FM and UHF-FM repeaters are located there,” Cirone stated. Some of the Club's members are also ARES members and are directly responsible for the resurrection of the ARES program within District 1 after its absence for at least five years.

ARES District 1 will continue to train, test, exercise and use two-way radio technologies, modes and algorithms that help ensure its ability to provide, augment, and support modern, interoperable, and resilient critical contingency, emergency, and supplemental (auxiliary) communications; real-time severe weather observation data; and more on behalf of the public and in support of governmental and non-governmental public safety, critical infrastructure, and emergency management related organizations and partners at all levels (served agencies) throughout the District 1 geographical area, Cirone concluded.

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