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Author Topic: How was your S.E.T. ??  (Read 3461 times)

Posts: 410


« on: October 24, 2004, 10:15:16 AM »

How was your Simulated Emergency Test (SET)?

Far to many groups will conduct an SET to prove to themselves that what
they have working,   works. DUH!

When you put together an exercise with your Served Agency, do you
actually provide ALL services they need or are you there simply to
supply "OH WOW" factors? You know, things like ATV, large numbers of
people being very busy during setup, WinLink E-mail and others. Don't
get me wrong. All of those items can be very important, IF you keep them
in perspective. It is when your effort is all "flash and glam" that you
do a dis-service to your group and served agency(ies).

How many failures did you have in your SET? If your answer is none, then
you actually had a major failure in planning. Every exercise should
expose at least one significant failure or the exercise was a waste of
time - a defacto failure. In fact the best exercises will reveal ten to
twenty percent of the items need work. In a few cases that will be more
like thirty to forty percent. The idea is to find the failure - during
an exercise, not during an emergency!

Why then do we hear such glowing reports about the success of almost
every SET? Probably because to few people are willing to be honest.
Their idea is that to find fault with volunteer work is to find fault
with the individual doing the job. WRONG! You can be very polite with
your explanations but they still NEED to present accurate information
- a.k.a. the truth. The vast majority of failures are from procedural
issues, equipment failures or short comings in training. Those are
processes, not people. Why can't we admit to failing, when we do that
so often? Isn't the ultimate failure not admitting to having failed

Good intentions are just that, good intentions. They have no meaning
during an emergency. During an emergency you get measured by what you
accomplish correctly, not by what you wanted to accomplish. There are
no "points" awarded for good intentions, only good results.

How do we go about getting accurate assessments in our reports?
(Yea, I know - most of the time we don't even get the reports!)

When will we start using that information? (Obviously only after it is
actually presented.)


Posts: 59

« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2004, 07:50:03 PM »

District SET got called off.  My county's part went on - we were assiting SATERN in providing comms during the local airports annual crash drill.  Some (MOST) things went RIGHT, but that's only because we improvised on the fly.  There were failures we worked around, and a list of 5-6 items where we said "we have to do this better next time".  When I say it went right - I'll say it because 1)The necessary comms did get through in a timely manner 2)The served agencies were happy
3)We presented a good public immage in front a some new clients

What went wrong?
1)Some people not going through net control
2)A few pieces of gear failed (Including one of my own!), but backup gear was brought into play
3)HF link to Chicago did NOT work (we brough a winlink station on line to get the traffic there - but...)
4)A few other training issues, that will be addressed

All in all, I think a good drill, and we think we know how to solve what went wrong

Posts: 99

« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2004, 04:40:37 AM »

As far as I know nothing happened.  I wasn't contacted by my EC and no newsletter or email was sent to plan for our participation.  It was a nonevent.
Local Government Liasion
Official Emergency Station
SouthEast Louisiana REACT

Posts: 2008

« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2004, 01:43:46 PM »

As far as I know, one wasn't done in Baltimore City/County. Don't remember one last year, either.

In any event, it has been almost five years since my particular served agency had any active participation.


Posts: 13

« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2004, 09:51:00 PM »

N3ZKP brings up a good point In light of the recent SET drill and now everyone should have an idea what went right and what went wrong. Based on check in’s to nets and mock contacts and just general participation if something where to happen does anyone think we would get called buy our served agency and if so in what capacity would we be doing actual radio work or passing out coffee and if called would you have the man power to get the job done. I only ask because it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately I live in western pa and had floods in the Pittsburgh area and there wasn’t that much amateur radio work done and the work that was done was at salvation army centers and I imagine most of that time was spent passing out coffee. Anyway I don’t mean to get off on a rant I just want to know what everyone thinks.


Posts: 19


« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2004, 11:19:53 PM »

Northern California ARES groups don't participate in SET.


Posts: 410


« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2004, 11:22:07 AM »

Wow, that's appalling!

There are two scenarios that come to mind:
1) There was an SET and the word was not properly dispersed
     (communication failure)
2) There was not an SET in many areas

I would ask that each person that did not have or didn't know about an
SET contact their local EC and find out what happened. If there was an
SET and the word didn't get out, the EC needs to know that. If there was
no SET and there was not a very good reason for that, then you need to
contact the DEC and find out why. If the DEC cannot supply a good
reason then the SEC needs to be involved.

No matter what, use the proper chain of command and find out why.

In my opinion, since 9/11/01 the only valid reason for not having an
SET each year is that there was a real emergency.


Posts: 169

« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2004, 07:36:52 AM »

We had a great SET here in Central Florida. We simulated 3 hurricanes hitting within 6 weeks. Very realistic...

Larry, N2HBX

Posts: 19


« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2004, 04:40:52 PM »

> No matter what, use the proper chain of command and
> find out why.

Don't know about other sections, but have found out about northern california.  Word from fairly high up the CoC: "We don't need to."

Posts: 410


« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2004, 01:51:29 PM »

"We don't need to"??

Let me repeat -  Wow, that's appalling!

Anyone in the chain of command that says they don't need to practice must either 1) Have more emergencies than anyone wants or 2) Needs a job they can handle.


Posts: 536


« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2004, 05:41:45 AM »

Sometimes it's  just a matter of labels. SET is an ARRL one, not known by many others outside the ham community.

A number of the counties in my section don't run their own SET as they participate in full emergency exercises run by OEM each year.  Some of these are required due to the nuclear power plants in the counties. The EC's then just fill out the SET Report form for their team's work in these in exercises, which is perfectly permissable and in my mind, actually preferable than an exercise in a vaccum.

So if you ask some folks whether they participated in a SET, they might not even know that they did!

But every group needs to participate in some emergency exercise involving communications at least once a year!


Gary, K2GW

Posts: 1045


« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2004, 06:29:03 AM »

I have found that many groups don't have a SET because the leadership doesn't know how to plan one.  The FEMA independent study courses Introduction to Community Disaster Exercises, and Exercise Design are very helpful in this regard.

If anyone would like help in designing a SET, send me an email and I'd be happy to email you some materials to get you started.  Pat also has some great stuff on his web site.

But I can't help you with lack of ambition...  When I was a DEC my solution for groups who didn't have a SET or submit a SET report was to work the local OEM or other served agency such as a hospital, airport authority, etc. to activate amateur radio to participate in its exercises.  

A large public service event such as the Marine Corps Marathon, which uses multiple nets and multiple modes, an incident command system organizational structure, which incorpates working with served agencies can be structured and evaluated to meet the requirements of a SET.  

Posts: 28


« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2004, 06:36:18 AM »

In Maricopa County, Arizona, our SET this year was the Multiple Sclerosis 150-mile bike ride.  We get a lot of comments about using this even as our annual SET exercise, but as one of our members puts it, it’s “disaster by appointment”.

Our support of this event links multiple repeaters.  We utilized more than 50 hams, and in many years that number is closer to 100.  We operate several directed nets, and manage the logistics, medical and sag response for as many as 2500 bike riders.  When planning a SET, the goal is to test not only the response, but also the capabilities within the amateur community.  A well-designed exercise should test how the system reacts to unknowns, and if you have ever supported a large bike ride, you will know that unknowns are the order of the day.

This year’s event managed the movement of several tons of food and material around the course.  We provided rides to a couple hundred tired riders.  We rolled medical response units to several minor injuries.  We provided updates to the host organization on a wide range of operational issues such as where the last rider was, how the lead rider was progressing and when will he/she arrive, how each rest stop was doing with supplies, food and water.  We provided these services for more than 12-15 hours a day for 2 days.  These messages weren't canned, simulated or in anyway pretend, they were the real deal.

We re-united lost riding partners, parents and kids, ensured that proper law enforcement personnel were on station at dangerous intersections, and maintained situational awareness over a 90 mile long route.  With the terrain we have in central Arizona, we are required to deploy and link a portable repeater, deploy and utilize multiple ARPS trackers, deploy and utilize Digipeaters and deploy and utilize a technical response team.  Additionally we team safety and support units to patrol a given area of the course looking for road hazards (such as gravel, glass or other hazards that might cause accidents) in given sectors.  Although these units largely operate with little direction, they monitor and report through the main net.  We exercise virtually all the aspects of an emergency response.  We frequently handle actual priority traffic and on occasions we are the first to arrive on accident scenes, and relay location, and status to the associated participating (licensed emergency medical) medical units.  We provide a ham to ride along with law enforcement, and though that liaison we can request police support to secure the scene.  All non-emergency or priority traffic is suspended until the emergency is over.

This event strengthens our ability to respond to actual emergencies.  Other than an actual emergency, I don’t believe there is a more intense simulated emergency than this annual event we participate in.  We pass a couple thousand tactical communications messages each day.  Having been a net controller on this ride in the past, I assure you it is a very challenging event for a net manager.  

We have assisted in saving the lives of injured riders, we teach our participants to remain situationally aware, we manage equipment failures, we learn the strengths of our membership, we strengthen the ties we have with local public service agencies, and we demonstrate the capabilities of Amateur Radio.   What we don’t do, is test the actual callout response.  All things considered, I would rate the MS-150 as a success as a SET.

Posts: 21

« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2004, 07:38:22 PM »

Our SET was planned around a hurricane that hit our area, circled back and hit it again.  We simulated the operation of 8 shelters and used simplex nets for communications and message relays.  Since we are in a somewhat hilly terrain, simplex did not work as good as it did during testing (ah Murphy!!)so we had some comm difficulties like a real event would have, and we had somebody break into the net with emergency drill traffic about a tornado, which caused all h**l to break out and overload net control with about 30 messages coming in in a 6 minute period!!!

It was pretty good !!

ARRL DEC Hunterdon County, NJ
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