Joint DCEC / WashCoARES Drill Very Successful, demonstrates competence, raises skills!

Fourteen members of the Washington County ARES group participated in a joint drill with the Dakota county Emergency Communications (DCEC) group on September 19, 2010. The drill provided communications for a simulated mid-air two plane collision over the Mississippi River. WashCoARES members joined DCEC members along with pilots and ground crews from the Civil Air Patrol, US Coast Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Shakopee CERT Team, and Inver Hills Community College's EMS Trainees and instructors in responding to the simulated emergency. WashCoARES members provided communications with the search and rescue teams, simulated EOC location, Incident Command on Grey Cloud Island, Unified Command at Spring Lake Park Preserve and to other units through Unified Command. Over 90 people participated in the drill.

Planning for the joint drill started more than three months ago. Incident Command System procedures and forms were used for planning. This enabled members to become more familiar with the ICS System, the one that would be used at a real disaster response. Washington County Drill Incident Command was established on Lower Grey Cloud Island. A communications trailer from the Bloomington communications group was utilized. It had ham radios, computers, and public safety radios such as 800 Mhz and Armer. Hams were assigned to Search and Rescue teams from the Civil Air Patrol. They prosecuted a grid search of the Camp Galilee area and reported victims with injuries, requested medical response and evacuation of victims. Incident Command "ran the show" in the ground search area.

Dummy victims were placed in the Mississippi River channel by the Coast Guard and CG Auxiliary. The Civil Air Patrol conducted an air search for dummy victims in the river using air assets and communicated findings to the water units. US Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary retrieved the dummies and brought them to locations for treatment and evacuation.

Communications and group incident decisions were made through a Unified Command structure which was established early in the drill. This enabled interoperable communications to flow smoothly. The drill ran from 7am check-in and credentialing through 1330 when the drill was called. All victims were found and treated except for "Mikey", who was reported to be a 7 year old, but was in fact the pilot's dog.

All members enjoyed the drill and learned in the process. A Plus/Delta debrief will take place following the drill to identify what went well and what needs to be changed in future drills and real events. Thanks and Kudos to all participants and especially to the Washington County ARES members for their dedication and participation in this drill!!
KA0HYR, ARES EC, Washington County MN