Greater Madawaska "Wet Feet" Exercise 2011-Sep-12

East Renfrew ARES recently assisted the Township of Greater Madawaska to obtain and set up a dual-band amateur radio system in their Municipal Office at Calabogie. The township is one of the largest in Renfrew County and at 1011 square kilometers incorporates the villages of Calabogie, Griffith, Matawatchan, Mount Saint Patrick and Dacre. Two ghost towns, Belvanie and Khartum, complete the township.

While the area is home to a variety of activities including rock/ice climbing, canoeing, hiking, biking and skiing, the hilly terrain is hardly conducive to effective radio communications.

With the ham radio equipment in place, Fire Chief Betsy Sayers asked East Renfrew ARES to participate in emergency exercises scheduled for September 12, 2011. As it happened, two of the groups members, AEC Ron VE3JRN and Wayne VE3JSQ were unavailable with Wayne on vacation in Newfoundland and Ron undergoing surgery in Ottawa.

AEC Jim VA3JER, was left in charge of the operation and enlisted the help of Sandy VE3AAC, Allan VE3JGU with West Renfrew AEC, Richard VA3BIX handling net control. The EC of the group, Paul VA3COG was present in the municipal hall throughout the exercise which included two scenarios. ARES was not required to pass traffic during the first event involving a serious fuel truck and SUV accident with fatalities.

The second scenario, operation "Wet Feet" required amateur radio due to the rough terrain and collapse of telephone communications. Sandy and Allan were dispatched to the Village of Griffith where severe flooding was occurring due to a major breach of the Bark Lake dam. The team was also sent to the hamlet of Matawatchan to set up mobile comms.

Using the VE3STP repeater, all needs were met and local messages were passed. When the evacuation of Griffith was ordered, net control contacted George VE3GPD in Petawawa who contacted the Pembroke Fire Chief Dan Herback on the departments response vehicle.

Bill VE3TUC heard the exercise while driving to Kaladar and kindly offered to check-in as he passed various towns on the route. Bill's mobile transmissions were copied Q5 until he reached the town of Cloyne. Many other Ottawa Valley stations responded to our roll call including Steve VE3KEG in Calabogie, Lewis VE3QJ at Pembroke, Wally VE3GE in Stewartville and Mike VA3TJP at Sand Point.

The group was able to activate the autopatch at Pembroke and contact the IRLP Ontario Public Service Reflector.

Both the ARES group and the client felt that the operation was a success. ARES communicated a brief to the fire chief containing a small number of suggestions for the future.

Richard Bourcier VA3BIX

Last Updated: 2011 Sep. 19