Local amateur radio operators participate in state exercise

Contributed photoDustin Wyllie operates an amateur radio on Aldrich Mountain as part of a statewide exercise Nov. 8.

On Nov. 8, the Grant County Amateur Radio Emergency Service participated in a statewide exercise to test communications methods in a scenario that disabled all phone and internet services.

In the scenario, a state-sponsored terrorist organization targeted Oregon with a computer virus that knocked out both cell and wireline telephone networks and a biological virus that killed thousands. Counties were pitted against each other as people fled the cities to escape the deadly biological virus in the scenario.

Two of the amateur radio operators who took part in the exercise in Grant County took the day off work in order to participate in the drill.

Dustin Wyllie spent most of the day on top of Aldrich Mountain to test a radio message and beaconing mode called APRS and to deploy a low-power temporary radio repeater. Seth Klingbeil, who also took the day off work, spent his time in a digital radio mode called Winlink. A total of 10 amateur radio operators took part in the exercise.

Part of the exercise was what became known as the MacGyver Task. In this contingency task, all normal radio antennas used for emergency work were blown down in a freak windstorm. Radio operators had to quickly implement an alternate plan. This task required a short message to be sent and relayed using three different modes of communications.

The exercise began in the Grant County Emergency Manager Ted Williams’ office with two amateur radio operators and representatives from the county road department, the health department and the Community Emergency Response Team.

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