Thank you Juliet Sierra-16 for sharing this T-Rex 2016 After Action Report!
Let me begin by stating that I am not a comms whiz. I’m married to a comms enthusiast, but I believe in division of labor – so while I have been instructed how to turn on the radios and tune to the stations and frequencies and check in weekly to our local net on unlicensed frequencies, I am not a HAM and do not understand half the things he says when he gets going about radios. That said, I’m ecstatic someone in our household has taken the task on and with that in mind, I’d like to discuss the role of supporting your comms team in SHTF scenarios.
As an aside – JJS has stated this on numerous occasions, but let me repeat it, do not let these practice opportunities pass you by. Use these exercises and familiarize yourself with your tools of preparation (that you probably haven’t taken out of the box since you purchased them). Take part in these practice sessions as motivation to finish preparation projects that you’ve got in limbo. Get involved!
We participated in T-REX 2016 (and Cascadia Rising) as a family and as a local group of patriots who’ve pledged to support one another. As such, our home ended up not only as practice for us, but became the command post for our Assembly’s numerous participants. We shut off the power and had comms, security, and support persons here all weekend. I had six extra men camped out at our property for the duration of the weekend and many, many people flowing in and out. So let’s get to the meat of the matter and talk about the logistics of the exercise…
Do you have water? In all seriousness, do you? After a well pump failure in 2015 that took 10 days to fix in 100F plus weather and then this year participating in T-REX, our conclusion is that the first five items on your prep list should be water, water, water, water, & water. People need water, my animals need water, my garden needs water; folks, nobody will be here to tell the story if you don’t have your water sources (yes, that is plural!) figured out ahead of time. It took a full week to install, test, and tweak our emergency pump on our well (and that was after months of trying to figure out how to fab up a one of a kind part to fit the hand pump to our well because of where the well is located in the pump house). I had never opened and tested/used our Berkey filtration system, that took an entire day to get right and while it seems terrifically simple conceptually, it is not just an open it up, pop in the filters, and toss some water in process. And once you have a water source, how do you get it to the people, animals, and plants that need it? PLEASE, think of this now and get your systems in place. I cannot stress it enough.
Do you have comms? You may even be a licensed HAM, but if you’re not practicing on a regular basis, the gremlins of the radio world will eat you alive and you will be alone in the dark and talking to no one on game day. It happened to us… people who ‘’know” their radios were unable to hear us and they couldn’t figure out why, and it was as simple as their TDR was switched to off. Suddenly, the country neighbors 5-10 miles away and are a snap to get to and communicate with, disappear. Practice, practice, practice.
Food & morale, there’s a definite correlation… I was tasked with feeding all these menfolk, along with a few wives and children, for the weekend. I used propane stoves, dutch ovens over fire, a charcoal BBQ, and a Silverfire stove. With the exception of one meat item and general ideas, I did not plan my meals in advance of the weekend, but instead tried to make it as realistic as possible by getting into my stores a few hours ahead of each meal and putting enough food together to satisfy the estimated number I was given for the next meal. Plainly stated, mealtime was clutch. We can simply subsist, and at times we may only be capable of that, but if you can provide a meal prepared in the spirit of service and love, you will see a huge difference in morale. Granted, this was only practice and no one was really despaired or worried, but I noted the major uplift in the spirit of our group as we sat, asked the blessing on our meal, and visited together while eating. Truly, meal time was nourishment for both soul and body. I would ask you, patriot and pepper, have you planned and prepared on a few extra mouths to feed? If you haven’t, repent and start now! Please review James 2:15-17 and think it over. Community is how man has survived for centuries and though we live in a world of virtual community, any TEOTWAWKI situation will quickly return us to physical community. And I say, embrace it! Take the time and effort to identify those people with whom you want to do community with and begin now. It was great to see our group working to transmit and receive comms and to be notified of scenarios and work through them with the wide range of personalities contributing and a variety of needs being met.
We did experience one minor hiccup, communication between the kitchen and the comms team was non-existent (other than me hollering out, “Food’s on!”) and I often put food on the table right before or during scheduled nets, I would have liked to avoid that, so as many as possible could sit for the fellowship of mealtime. My suggestion is that the kitchen be given a written copy of the scheduled nets to side step timing conflicts.
Other notables in supporting your comms and security teams; have you thought through sanitation/hygiene/bathroom usage? A guy who’s slept 5 in 36 hours can feel very ragged – some hot water, soap, fresh clothes, and a toothbrush, followed by food, drink, and a nap can be rejuvenated and ready for action. Laundry? This is not one I have completely worked through yet either. The quantity of filthy clothing my four small, outdoor, dirt loving children create daily is enough to make your head spin with functioning modern conveniences, let alone grid down.
Overall, I count this as a tremendously positive experience. This is the first year we attempted to participate as a cohesive unit. This has its difficulties, but they do not outweigh the benefit in my estimation. Let each of us, whether working in a family unit or as a group, embrace our post or task with sincere hearts and full effort, knowing that our contribution – however small – may be the encouragement that the guy to our left or right needs to carry on.
The Lower Valley Assembly would like to make note of our appreciation to John Jacob and the AmRRON corps for their preparation and dedication. Many of you, who will remain unknown to us, have sacrificed a great deal to afford us this opportunity to train, which has us taking our game to the next level – because you don’t know, what you don’t know and the only way to find out what you don’t know is to put yourself smack dab in the middle of the situation that will educate you. I urge you, put it in your head and on your schedule now to join us in this training next year.
May our gracious Lord and Savior go before you always.