The following was sent out to several Kentucky ARES operators ahead of the ‘Great Shakeout’ earthquake preparedness exercise.  I have some thoughts right after the letter.


Subject Earthquake exercise at 1415Z October 15 (1015 EDT)

1.  It is 1415Z on Thursday October 15 2015.  You have just felt a moderate
earthquake as you operated your station.  You dropped, covered, and held on
as plaster and glass flew around your shack.  After the shaking had
stopped, you left the building by the nearest exit.  You and your family
are shocked, but apparently there are no serious injuries.

2.  You see several cracks in the fascia and wonder if it is safe to
reenter the building.  Your spouse comes up to you and tells you that
he/she could not get a dial tone on the phone before exiting the building.
You try your cell but it is out.  You now notice that there seems to be no
commercial power to your area.  In a near panic, your spouse asks these
questions:  What do we do?  How do we get help?  How bad do you think the
quake is?  And you think, What do I do now?

3.  Problem statement:
A.  What are your primary and secondary priorities and responsibilities?
What are the time constraints on these activites?
B.  How are you prepared to sustain family and ARES support/activity
throughout a lengthy response?

As you participate in the ShakeOut Net this morning, look around you.  What
might fall on you?  What might fall over and destroy your house?  Do you
and your family have the normal fire drill procedures practiced?  What
would be your exits (if any!) from your area?



  1. First and foremost, your safety and that of your loved ones is your HIGHEST PRIORITY.
  2. Assess the situation and mitigate any threats
    1. Do you smell gas?
    2. Do you see smoke from your own structures, or those of nearby neighbors?
    3. Can you/should you turn off utilities, such as gas, water, electrical panel?
  3. As a communicator, you have a unique skillset and value to your community.  You should feel a sense of responsibility to serve your community, much like a paramedic who happens upon a car crash while on vacation with his family.  You have a skill that others need, and that should be among your top priorities after your family has been secured.
  4. You may feel the home isn’t safe to stay in, but where will you go?  The effects could be worse elsewhere.  The hotel that you think you’re going to stay at 50 or 100 miles away could be at the epicenter and worse shape than yours.
  5. COMMS UP!
    1. Tune to your local repeaters immediately, especially the local ARES/County EOC frequencies.  Lots of information will be flowing quickly and at a high tempo.
    2. Scanner traffic (Police, Fire, EMS, Highway Dept, etc.)
    3. HF – 40m/80m AmRRON Voice Frequency (depending on time of year)  –  Operators in the region will immediately begin tuning in to the AmRRON voice HF frequency for continuous monitoring.  Changes can be made on the air and stations can coordinate and/or be assigned to go to the SOI or stay on 40/80, or both, depending on capabilities and the situation.
    4. Connect to a WINLINK node – You will want to determine which nodes are up, locate a couple of good, reliable nodes outside the area so you can send/receive emails from nodes in unaffected areas and which have internet access.
    5. Have the Red Cross and SATERN frequencies handy.  This will help with passing welfare traffic
      1. Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network
    6. Have your state (and surrounding states) ARES HF frequencies handy.
    7. If you are in an area where other AmRRON operators are located, you should try to establish a net, and don’t forget to monitor the AmRRON Simplex frequency.
    8. Monitor CH3 Frequencies
    9. Establish Black Echo station if local stations are off the air.  Keep your community/neighborhood informed using information you and your family has gleaned from monitoring all of your sources.

Those are my thoughts from an ‘AmRRON operator perspective.’  Of course there are many other things to consider, such as going around to check on your neighbors, assisting with shutting off utilities, patrolling for looters if necessary in the days ahead, clearing streets of debris with chainsaws, etc.

But time and again from civil wars, social or economic collapse, or disasters (natural or manmade), we hear over and over the pressing need for communications.  Information is king!

  • Monitoring for news and information related in and outside your area
  • Sharing information with your neighbors and community, such as shelters, food/water distribution points, field medical services, etc.
  • Calling for assistance, rescue, recovery
  • Sending/Receiving welfare reports.  Lots of folks will be worried about their loved ones.