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Ex13-1

Exercise Outline

Overview of the Spring 2013 Section Exercise

John McDonough

American Radio Relay League Michigan Section

Legal Notice

Copyright © 2013 The Michigan Section of the American Radio Relay League. This material may only be distributed subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License, V1.0, (the latest version is presently available at http://www.opencontent.org/openpub/).
ARES and ARPSC are trademarks of the American Radio Relay League.
All other trademarks and copyrights referred to are the property of their respective owners.
Abstract
Each Spring the Michigan Section holds an exercise for ARES and NTS to supplement the annual SET held each October. This document provides information necessary to participants in the 2013 exercise.

1. Introduction

Twice each year the Michigan Section holds Section-wide exercises. These exercises are designed to test needed communications skills. In recent exercises, the emphasis has been on developing the ARES-NTS interface, and working with the various FEMA forms.
The Fall exercise is the annual ARRL SET. This is always held on the first Saturday in October. This is typically a fairly in-depth exercise. The exercise attempts to provide opportunities for the various jurisdictions to interface with served agencies. Although the Section-wide portion of the exercise is rarely a full-scale exercise, the opportunity is there for the local jurisdictions to develop their own FSE.
The Spring exercise is usually more focused. Typically, the exercise exploits some particular skill. Generally the effort required of local jurisdictions is minimal, in order to give those jurisdictions the opportunity to develop activities to practice locally required skills.
The Spring 2013 exercise will also be a very simple exercise, focused on a few skills. Unlike many recent exercises, there is no scenario, no surprise injects, no evaluators. Jurisdictions will follow a pre-planned script designed to cause each jurisdiction to execute specific tasks. Evaluation will be as observed from the SEOC, as well as input from ECs.

2. Rationale

There are four expectations from this exercise:
  1. transmit several ICS forms
  2. interface with the assigned NTS net
  3. communicate directly with the SEOC
  4. exploit the new MI CIMS

2.1. ICS Forms

The ICS-205 and the ICS-205a are forms detailing the communications strategy for an incident. While most ICS forms we encounter are likely to be prepared by served agencies, these are forms with which we should be familiar. In addition, the ICS-217 is a form which can provide input for the ICS-205. As such, Emergency Coordinators and Net Managers should be familiar with this form as well.

2.2. Interface with the assigned NTS net

The NTS-ARES interface is critical for several reasons. First, NTS operators are highly skilled at dealing with record traffic. While ARES ops regularly transmit tactical messages, the opportunity to deal with record traffic is less common. Using NTS allows ARES operators to focus on more tactical needs while utilizing the greater skill of NTS ops for record traffic.
Secondly, longer haul traffic requires dealing with unpredictable HF circuits and often congestion on frequency. Relieving the ARES operators of these concerns gives them more time to focus on local needs.
Thirdly, when many counties are activated, the station at the SEOC can get quite congested. Limiting the stations contacting the SEOC helps alleviate this congestion. In addition, the more practiced NTS operators take considerably less time to transmit and receive traffic than less skilled operators.

2.3. Communicate directly with the SEOC

In recent years, exercises have focused on the NTS-ARES interface. Most county EOCs have the capability to communicate directly with the SEOC, however, having all counties attempt to contact the SEOC at the same time is problematic.
Nevertheless, counties need an opportunity to test their direct circuits from time to time. This exercise will afford that opportunity by breaking down the exercise into individual time slots for each District.

2.4. Exploit the new MI CIMS

Recently the state has implemented a new Critical Incident Management System, MI CIMS, often referred to as "WebEOC". This new system includes features specific to amateur radio, and a large fraction of ARES and NTS leadership now has access to this tool.
This exercise will afford us an opportunity to use this tool with some level of intensity, gaining more practice and perhaps understanding the strengths and limitation.

3. Exercise Conduct

The exercise will take place on Saturday, May 11, 2013. The exercise will be broken into four, two-hour periods. Each District will be assigned a specific period in which to operate.

3.1. Exercise Schedule

Each period will be similar. At the beginning of the period, the assigned net will send a liaison to the SEOC to pick up traffic for the counties. There are two nets and two districts per two-hour slot, so one net will connect with the SEOC for the first 10 minutes, the second net for the second 10 minute period.
Then the first District will have 30 minutes in which the individual counties will send their ICS-217 to the SEOC. Then the second District.
Finally, the first net will again send a liaison to the SEOC, this time to deliver responses from the counties. This period is 20 minutes. Finally the second net will deliver traffic to the SEOC.
The first District will have the time from 10 minutes into the segment until 20 minutes into the segment, and again from 50 minutes in until 80 minutes in, during which they can get the traffic from their net, formulate the response, and return the responses to their net.

Time is tight

Net Managers and DECs will need to carefully pre-plan their time as there will not be a lot of time to get their work done.
The second district in the segment will have the time from 20 minutes in until 50 minutes into the segment, and again from 80 minutes to 100 minutes to deliver their responses to their net.
The detailed schedule for the exercise is shown in the following table:
Table 1. Exercise Schedule
Time Dist Net Freq1 Freq2 What
8:00 1 QMN Outbound 3563 7064 QMN to send a liaison to SEOC, take traffic
8:10 5 MACS Outbound 3932 7232 MACS to send a liaison to SEOC, take traffic
8:20 1 counties 3584 3932 D1 counties to deliver ICS-217 directly to the SEOC
8:50 5 counties 3584 3932 D5 counties to deliver ICS-217 directly to the SEOC
9:20 1 QMN inbound 3563 3584 QMN sends a liaison to SEOC to deliver traffic
9:40 5 MACS inbound 3932 3584 MACS sends a liaison to SEOC to deliver traffic
10:00 8 UP Outbound 3932 7232 UP to send a liaison to SEOC, take traffic
10:10 NWS GLETN Outbound 3932 7232 GLETN to send a liaison to SEOC, take traffic
10:20 8 counties 3584 3932 D8 counties to deliver ICS-217 directly to the SEOC
10:50 NWS counties 3584 3932 NWS offices to deliver ICS-217 directly to the SEOC
11:20 8 UP inbound 3932 3584 UP sends a liaison to SEOC to deliver traffic
11:40 NWS GLETN inbound 3932 3584 GLETN sends a liaison to SEOC to deliver traffic
13:00 6 MVTN Outbound 145470 3584 MVTN to send a liaison to SEOC, take traffic
13:10 7 MIDTN Outbound 3584 7045 MIDTN to send a liaison to SEOC, take traffic
13:20 6 counties 3584 3932 D6 counties to deliver ICS-217 directly to the SEOC
13:50 7 counties 3584 3932 D7 counties to deliver ICS-217 directly to the SEOC
14:20 6 MVTN inbound 145470 3584 MVTN sends a liaison to SEOC to deliver traffic
14:40 7 MIDTN inbound 3584 3584 MIDTN sends a liaison to SEOC to deliver traffic
15:00 2 SEMTN Outbound 147280 3584 SEMTN to send a liaison to SEOC, take traffic
15:10 3 MITN Outbound 3932 7232 MITN to send a liaison to SEOC, take traffic
15:20 2 counties 3584 3932 D2 counties to deliver ICS-217 directly to the SEOC
15:50 3 counties 3584 3932 D3 counties to deliver ICS-217 directly to the SEOC
16:20 2 SEMTN inbound 147280 3584 SEMTN sends a liaison to SEOC to deliver traffic
16:40 3 MITN inbound 3932 3584 MITN sends a liaison to SEOC to deliver traffic

Table only identifies SEOC schedule

Note that the above table identifies only contacts with the SEOC. Each District and Net will need to work together to determine the optimum schedule for within-District activities.

3.2. Exercise Tasks

Each jurisdiction will need to execute a number of tasks during the exercise. Some may take considerable creativity on the part of the players.
The exercise relies heavily on ICS forms.

ICS forms available on MI CIMS

Most relevant ICS forms may be found at Reference Info -> ICS Forms. The ICS-217 may be found at Reference Info -> File Library -> ICS Forms.

3.2.1. Tasks for NTS

Each net will need to send a liaison to the SEOC at the beginning of the time segment to pick up radiogram traffic from the SEOC bound for the served counties.
The net will then need to deliver the traffic to the counties. Since there is not a lot of time for this activity, it is imperative that the Net Manager and DEC have worked out ahead of time the times, modes and frequencies on which this will be done. The individual counties may attend a meeting of the net (on a frequency not in use by the SEOC), or the DEC may take all the traffic from the net and deliver it to the counties. The DEC and Net Manager may decide that some other plan is appropriate.
Prior to the exercise, the District might enlist the assistance of the net in determining how to effectively move the District's ICS-217 forms to the SEOC.
The net must then collect responses from the counties, again, the Net Manager and DEC must determine how best to do this for their jurisdiction.
Finally, the net must send a liaison to the SEOC to deliver the county responses. The Net Manager should consider all available assets. For example just because it is an HF phone net, there is no law preventing the liaison station from contacting the SEOC via CW, MT-63, or even linked repeaters.
Net Managers should maintain their station status in the MI CIMS, and also status of other key stations if those stations do not have access to the MI CIMS. If the Net Manager cannot access the CIMS, he/she should appoint a member station to provide those updates.
All traffic should be logged in the MI CIMS.

3.2.2. Tasks for ARES

Each county will collect traffic from the SEOC. The DEC and Net Manager will have had to arrange just how that is to be done. It may be that each county will send a representative to a meeting of the net, or perhaps the DEC will assign a station to collect traffic for the counties.
The traffic from the SEOC will request information from the counties. Counties will need to prepare a response and return that response to their assigned NTS net for delivery to the SEOC.
Each district has an assigned slot for meeting with the SEOC. Counties should send their ICS-217 to the SEOC during this time slot.
Emergency Coordinators should consider whether to arrange other tasks to practice skills needed in their jurisdiction.
Any significant activities taken during the event should be recorded in the Activity Log. For EOC activation and deactivation, the Post to SEOC Significant Events button should be checked. Each EC should enter a record in AuxComm Station Status for each station active within their jurisdiction. At least for the EOC, the Situation Update should be completed in some detail. All record traffic should be recorded in the AuxComm Message Log.

4. Modes and Frequencies

Table 1, “Exercise Schedule” shows a number of different frequencies. These represent frequencies that the SEOC will be monitoring during the specified time slot. The mode depends on the frequency.
Table 2. Exercise Frequencies
Frequency Notes
3563 Michigan emergency frequency, CW
3584 (3583 dial frequency) Michigan digital frequency. Use MT-63 1K unless there are thunderstorms in your area or in the area of the SEOC. In that case switch to Olivia 8/500. Check with your NWS DEC for weather conditions.
3932 This is the Michigan emergency frequency, SSB.
5371.5 (Dial frequency). In the event of a low F0F2 coupled with a high K, stations should be prepared to use this frequency. If the frequency is required and occupied, check other channels. this frequency may only be used for USB and PSK-31.
7063 This is the backup Michigan Emergency Frequency, CW. Use this frequency if the F2 layer critical frequency, F0F2, exceeds 8 MHz or if the planetary K index exceeds 4.
7232 This is the backup Michigan Emergency Frequency, SSB. Use this frequency if the F2 layer critical frequency, F0F2, exceeds 8 MHz or if the planetary K index exceeds 3.
145470 This is the Lansing IRA FM repeater. Stations should use their nearest IRA repeater. Lansing PL 100. For other frequencies and PL requirements, visit http://www.w8hvg.org/repeatermap.htm. Net Managers and District Emergency Coordinators should plan relays or other alternatives in case of repeater problems.
147280 This is the Lansing CMEN FM repeater. Stations should use their nearest CMEN repeater. Lansing PL 100. For other frequencies and PL requirements, visit http://cmen.us/repeaters/. Net Managers and District Emergency Coordinators should plan relays or other alternatives in case of repeater problems.

Use the appropriate mode

Nets and counties should use the most appropriate mode and frequency for the traffic to be handled. There is no law preventing, for example, an HF net from sending a liaison to the SEOC on VHF. Obviously, modes and frequencies must be negotiated between both ends of the circuit.

5. ICS Forms

Since we would expect most record traffic to involve ICS forms, the exercise relies heavily on these forms.
There are many versions of ICS forms on the web. For those forms that are supported by flmsg, the versions in flmsg should be used. Many other forms are available in MI-CIMS.
The exercise exploits those forms we are most likely to need ourselves, the 205, 205a, 217 and 217a. Emergency Coordinators and Net Managers should familiarize themselves with all forms that are likely to be used by their jurisdictions, however.

Only use relevant fields

The various ICS forms are intended to be fairly generic, and as a result, there are many fields that are simply not relevant. Only use those fields that make sense.
There are many examples on the web of filled out forms, especially those relevant to amateur radio. All members should be encouraged to review these forms as various jurisdictions tend to have different needs and find good ways to exploit these resources.

6. MI CIMS Entries

All Net Managers and Emergency Coordinators should become familiar with the Michigan Critical Incident Management System, MI CIMS. This tool provides for good documentation of an incident as well as situational awareness. During actual incidents, this is the primary way State Agencies stay aware of what each other are doing, including us.
For this exercise, stations should log on to the incident TRN-2013-05-11-NTS/ARES-Functional-Drill and add all records to that incident.
When first activated, ECs and NMs should first consider filling out an ICS-202, the incident objectives. If the SEOC has been activated, the SEOC AuxComm objectives should be reviewed. This can be found by selecting SEOC Situation Report - Agency List, then selecting AuxComm from the agency list.
Besides communicating your objectives to other agencies, the ICS-202 serves the additional purpose of giving the Emergency Coordinator or Net Manager a few minutes to consider where the focus should reside. It can also serve as a valuable communications tool to your own staff.
Incident Objectives
Incident Objectives
Figure 1. Incident Objectives

Then both the counties and the nets should prepare a record in the AuxComm Station Status for each facility to be manned. For nets, these "facilities" tend to be roles, such as Net Control, District Liaison, etc.
Station Status Entry
Station Status Entry
Figure 2. Station Status Entry

Next, scroll down the facility board to Operator Information and assign operators to the facility/role. Note that operators may be assigned for future shifts, and when the shifts occur, the operator information may be rearranged with the Up and Down buttons.
Operator Information
Operator Information
Figure 3. Operator Information

All record traffic must be recorded in the AuxComm Message Log. For traffic passing through the nets, the Net Manager should feel responsible for these entries, however, depending on how traffic is routed within the district, that may not be possible.
Message Log
Message Log Entry
Figure 4. Message Log

The message originator can log the message when first placed on the air, then the delivering station can record delivery with the Update button on the message list.
Message List
Message List
Figure 5. Message List

It is important during an incident to share your status, so you must be capable of doing that.

Assign Record Keeper

Not everyone has yet gotten access to the MI CIMS, so it is important that you identify someone who will be responsible for keeping your status up to date in MI CIMS.
If you cannot find someone from your jurisdiction to keep MI CIMS updated for you, identify someone from another jurisdiction. Clearly, this must be planned well ahead of time.
You may also find it useful to keep notes in the Activity Log for future reference.
Activity Log
Activity Log Entry
Figure 6. Activity Log

When you update an activity log record, your entry is shown within the record with a new timestamp. You may update a record many times, and you may have as many records as you like.
The Activity Log entry is private, unless you check one of the three buttons at the bottom, "Post to SEOC Significant Events", "Post to Statewide Significant Events", or "REP". In that case your note will be shown in the appropriate "Significant Events" board. If a record so marked is updated, the update also shows in the "Significant Events" board.
Activity Log Display showing updates
Activity Log Display
Figure 7. Activity Log Display showing updates

A. Revision History

Revision History
Revision 1.0Tue Apr 23 2013John McDonough
Remove draft tag
Revision 0.4Tue Apr 23 2013John McDonough
Spell check
Additional notes
MI CIMS screenshots
Assorted Cleanup
Revision 0.3Wed Apr 17 2013John McDonough
Abstract
Revision 0.2Tue Apr 16 2013John McDonough
Rationale, Modes
Revision 0.1Fri Apr 12 2013John McDonough
Schedule
Revision 0.0Fri Apr 12 2013John McDonough
Initial creation of book by publcan