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Ex15-2 2015

Situation Manual

for the 2015 Simulated Emergency Test

John J. McDonough, WB8RCR

Legal Notice

Copyright© 2015, The Michigan Section of the American Radio Relay League
The text of and illustrations in this document are licensed by the Michigan Section of the American Radio Relay League under a Creative Commons Attribution--Share Alike 3.0 Unported license ("CC-BY-SA"). An explanation of CC-BY-SA is available at The original authors of this document designate the Michigan Section of the American Radio Relay League as the "Attribution Party" for purposes of CC-BY-SA. In accordance with CC-BY-SA, if you distribute this document or an adaptation of it, you must provide the URL for the original version.
The Michigan Section, as the licensor of this document, waives the right to enforce, and agrees not to assert, Section 4d of CC-BY-SA to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law.
The ARRL Diamond and logo and the ARES logo are registered trademarks of the American Radio Relay League in the United States and other countries.
All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
The 2015 Simulated Emergency Test is sponsored by The Michigan Section of the ARRL. This Situation Manual (SitMan) was produced with input, advice, and assistance from the 2015 Simulated Emergency Test Exercise Planning Team, which followed guidance set forth by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP).
The 2015 Simulated Emergency Test Situation Manual (SitMan) provides exercise participants with all the necessary tools for their roles in the exercise. It is tangible evidence of Section's commitment to ensure public safety through collaborative partnerships that will prepare it to respond to any emergency.
The 2015 Simulated Emergency Test is an unclassified exercise. Control of exercise information is based on public sensitivity regarding the nature of the exercise rather than actual exercise content. Some exercise material is intended for the exclusive use of exercise planners, facilitators, and evaluators, but players may view other materials that are necessary to their performance. All exercise participants may view the SitMan.
All exercise participants should use appropriate guidelines to ensure proper control of information within their areas of expertise and protect this material in accordance with current jurisdictional directives. Public release of exercise materials to third parties is at the discretion of the DHS and the 2015 Simulated Emergency Test Exercise Planning Team.

1. Introduction

Each year the American Radio Relay League hosts a contest called the "Simulated Emergency Test" or SET.
This year, to avoid numerous conflicts on the first weekend in October, the Section has decided to hold the exercise on the previous weekend. The Michigan SET will be held from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM local time on September 26, 2015.
Michigan has long used this opportunity as a relatively complex exercise, rather than a contest, so the general "points getting" dimensions of SET are typically ignored.
Nevertheless, jurisdictions are still strongly encouraged to submit the SET report to the ARRL, and where possible, engage local served agencies.

2. Objectives

2.1. Alternate operating location

Recent incidents such as the Northern Michigan and Detroit floods, as well as exercises such as Northern Exposure have demonstrated that some incidents can make large areas of the state unusable for one reason or another.
Most counties have an alternate EOC location, but all too often the alternate EOC is exposed to the same hazards as the primary EOC. Even so, we practice from these alternate locations all too infrequently.
Each year on Field Day we practice operating from primitive locations using backup power. However, in an actual incident there will probably not be as much planning time, and in all probability, there will be some sort of sructures available. However, these structures will not be those with which we are familiar. In many such cases, and even in some cases from the primary EOC, we may need to rely on VHF relay to a fixed station.

2.2. NBEMS Messaging

More and more we are being asked to transmit formal messages. Often these messages are complex forms or lists of specific things such as people's names, code numbers or names of pharmaceuticals. These can be difficult to transmit accurately on phone, and almost as difficult on CW. More often we are relying on NBEMS to maintain accuracy.
In addition, we are experiencing an unusual, and unfortunate sunspot cycle. We are just coming out of the weakest cycle in recent memory. There are still a few years until we hit the minimum, and a few more years until the flux returns to normal.
Long term solar flux
Graph of Long term solar flux
Figure 1. Long term solar flux

In spite of the low flux, this cycle has brought frequent magnetic disturbances and significant noise, making the lower frequencies difficult. The NBEMS modes help us with this situation, and as you can see from Figure 1, “Long term solar flux”, these conditions will likely be with us for some time.

2.3. ICS Forms

We frequently see various ICS forms and often are asked to transmit them. However, there are few that we need to fill out.
The Emergency Coordinator should prepare an ICS-201 and ICS-202 before briefing the team. These forms help focus on getting the important information together. However, these forms are likely to be used only by the EC and typically not shared with anyone else. The "official" incident 201 and 202 will be part of the IAP, generally assembled by the Operations Section Chief.
The ICS-205 is another matter. In any incident that is beyond trivial, the 205 helps the EC think through setting up the communications circuits. The EC should have previously prepared an ICS-217A so the exercise of the 205 can be purely focused on incident needs.
In a more complex incident, the EC may need to prepare a 205 for the COM-L so that person has amateur radio assets available when building the incident 205. In some smaller counties, the EC may need to function as the COM-L and the 205 will also need to account for public safety communications assets.

3. Scenario - Zombie Apocalypse

We have known for some time that the Zombie Apocalypse was going to start in South Florida, and it has happened. Tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of zombies have arose from the muck of Florida. Florida, of course, is not only oppressively hot at this time of year, but it is filled with old people. Zombies immediately began heading for more comfortable surroundings and younger, tastier treats.
It has long been expected that the redneck states bordering Florida would provide an effective barrier. (Figure 2, “Zombie March”). The Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee are among the best armed in the nation. Thousands of squirrel hunters in those states are expert marksmen, and attempting to go farther west into Louisiana and Arkansas should not be any easier for the zombies. Arkansas has its share of skilled squirrel hunters and the Louisiana duck hunters are nothing to trifle with.
Zombie March
Map of Zombie Route
Figure 2. Zombie March

Unfortunately, shortages in ammunition, especially high-power rifle ammunition, has reduced the effectiveness of the southerners. Zombies have broken through into the far less well protected states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana, and are beginning to enter Michigan.
The zombies have been concentrating in more populated areas where there is more food and the food tends to be more tender. Also, these areas are less well-protected. This has caused most Emergency Operations Centers to be inhabitable. However, the density of zombies in northern Michigan is still somewhat low, so many EOCs north of M-55, especially those removed from population centers, may still be usable.
The State Emergency Operations Center is away from the populated areas and well protected, so it is currently operational. The facility is surrounded by a strong fence, a battalion of troopers was able to make the 12 mile journey from the MSP armory to the SEOC and is currently holding off the few invaders who weren't drawn to the population of nearby East Lansing, where there are large numbers of juicy, tender, and poorly protected food sources at the University. How long the SEOC can hold out remains to be seen.
Many public safety responders have fallen victim to the zombies attempting to protect crews trying to keep infrastructure operational. Volunteers are going to be critical in managing this incident. Your EMC has set up EOC operations in a remote location which is quite small. Only one radio operator can be accommodated and that operator will probably have to make do with a handheld. ARES, RACES, CERT and various VOAD groups have been activated. You will need to concentrate communications in some location removed from the temporary EOC and provide circuits to keep the EOC and IC informed as much traditional communication is inoperative or unreliable.
In addition, you will need to provide support for the few public safety officials who have survived, and work with non-amateur groups to provide additional manpower.

4. Exercise Conduct

4.1. Exercise Overview

The interaction between the counties and the SEOC will be fairly minimal in order to give each jurisdiction the freedom to develop local activities to test those skills important to that jurisdiction.

Attention DECs

Each DEC must prepare, ahead of time, for delivery of messages from their local jurisdictions to the SEOC. While the assigned net is the preferred mechanism, the SEOC will be using NBEMS only, so the DEC may need to provide an alternative if the net cannot provide NBEMS service.
The SEOC will communicate with each District via Olivia 8/500 or MT-63 1K, depending on conditions. The District should deliver two messages per local jurisdiction as described below.
Each jurisdiction should send two messages to the SEOC during the course of the drill:
  • At the beginning of the exercise each jurisdiction should prepare a brief radiogram to the SEC outlining the assets the EC has available and the number of facilities being covered. Since radiograms are short, this will need to be quite terse.
  • After 10AM local time, the EC should send a form ICS-205 for the scenario described in Section 4.5, “Local Communications Plan”.

The SEOC will be using flmsg exclusively


4.2. District Coordination

Districts will use their normal procedures for maintaining coordination with their local jurisdictions. However, traffic directed to the SEOC should be in flmsg format when received by the District, so DECs should work out local to District NBEMS procedures.
Keep in mind that local jurisdictions will not have access to their EOC or PSAP, so if District procedures rely on special equipment at these locations some adjustment will be in order.
SEOC operation will be on the standard digital frequencies depending on conditions. Reflector 024A and the IRA link maybe used for coordination, but all messages are to be transmitted via NBEMS on HF.
Frequencies will of course depend on conditions, but the anticipated HF frequencies are:
  • 8AM to 10AM - 3.583 plus waterfall
  • 10AM to 1PM - 7.043 plus waterfall
Districts should, however, check propagation data to validate the best possible frequency. The primary indicator is the F2 layer critical frequency f0F2 If the operating frequency is significantly above the critical frequency close in operation may not be possible, although the farther a station is from Lansing, the more flexible they can be compared to the critical frequency.
There are three other indicators to check:
Any of these may drive operation to a higher frequency, but that is still limited by the F2 layer critical frequency.

May be forced to 60 meters

If none of the normal frequencies are usable, the SEOC will attempt 5.3465 PSK-31. Note that this is a last resort and is still subject to the propagation vagaries described above.

4.3. Local Operations

Emergency coordinators should plan local operations to exercise those skills needed for their jurisdiction. During the course of the exercise, jurisdictions are requested to send two messages to the SEOC via their District. This should leave plenty of time for local activities.
Emergency coordinators should find an operational location away from populated areas. Temporary shelter is not required, an appropriate structure unlikely to be tempting to zombies is preferred. Consideration should also be given to how adequately the structure can be defended.
Jurisdictions north of M-55 may choose to operate from their normal EOC, PSAP or similar location. However, emergency coordinators should consider the following:
  • Is the structure well removed from populated areas
  • Is the structure secure, fenced or otherwise inaccessible
  • How likely are the zombies to make it to your location within the operational period
  • Can you arrange adequate armed law enforcement or others to defend the location should it be required
  • Are there universities, boarding schools or other institutions nearby containing tasty treats which may draw zombies to your location, or away from it

Exploit ICS forms

The Emergency Coordinator should consider preparing an ICS-201 and ICS-202 to use when briefing the team.
During the course of the SET, each jurisdiction is expected to send two messages to the SEOC via their District. There are too many counties for each county to contact the SEOC directly, so traffic will be concentrated through the Districts. Districts may choose to use their assigned NTS nets, but since the SEOC will be exclusively using flmsg, it may be necessary for the District to provide another asset.

4.3.1. Jurisdiction Status

The first message from the jurisdiction should outline the basic readiness posture of the local jurisdiction. This message should be sent to the SEOC via the District early in the exercise period. Some items to consider are:
  • Chosen facility for center of operations
  • Number of amateurs deployed
  • Number of facilities manned
This message may be formatted as a radiogram or as an ICS-213, depending on its brevity.

4.3.2. ICS-205

Later in the exercise period the jurisdiction should send their communications plan, ICS-205, to the SEOC. Detailed requirements for the ICS-205 are in Section 4.5, “Local Communications Plan”. The EC should consult the previously prepared ICS-217A.

Keep your 217A up to date

Every jurisdiction should maintain an up to date ICS-217A outlining all available communications assets. This should include not only local VHF and UHF frequencies, but also HF frequencies for various modes, circuits to the SEOC and District, and any non-amateur frequencies that might become important.

4.4. Command Emphasis

Leaders must focus on life safety issues before anything else. Operations should ensure volunteers as well as citizens are kept safe. Resource allocation must prioritize life safety even above infrastructure protection.

4.5. Local Communications Plan

Because of the massive upset this incident has caused to normal infrastructure, your emergency management coordinator has had to stand up the EOC from a small, relatively primitive location. While there is only room for a single operator with a handheld, the EOC still needs to stay abreast of the situation, as does incident command.
Groups of volunteers, mostly CERT, are assisting law enforcement with traffic control. These groups require local coordination as well as communications back to command.
There are multiple staging areas, most quite remote. Like traffic control, these areas require communication among themselves as well as back to the field EOC and direct communications to incident command. Not all staging areas have licensed amateurs available.
There are many buses bringing victims to hospitals. These buses are manned by CERT personnel and require coordination between the buses and the hospitals. In addition, the EOC needs to be up to date on the status of the various hospitals.
The is a Joint Information Center (JIC) set up in a safe location which must be kept in touch with the EOC.
The Emergency Coordinator needs to keep up with communication needs of all the facilities, as well as with the District, and possibly the NTS net supporting the District.
When working out the communications plan it is important to consider the need to manage the amount of traffic on any circuit.

For Official Use Only