We had eight counties check in for the Drill. We had two counties that had DStar capabilities, and sent their messages to the SEOC. I do not know how that went. We had counties that sent messages through District for the SEOC. Those counties at this time do not have the capability to send messages by digital communications, or DStar.
Section wanted all transmission to the SEOC from District only. I understand why they would want that, but from a district like Three or Seven I do not see that being done in a timely matter. Receiving voice messages from the counties, and transferring them a radiogram or an ICS form takes time (Most of the ARES operators are not traffic handlers). That does not mean that they cannot take a message, and deliver it. I think all EC’s should have FLdigi either at their EOC, or on their computer, or both if Section is going to use FLdigi for communications to the SEOC, and from the SEOC to the District or Counties.
I also think that if there is communications involving mutable operators, or Counties, or Districts there needs to be a net control not at the SEOC or at an EOC, but away from the action.
There were problems with some doubling on FLdigi. If net control heard one station and realized there was another station along with the station heard then net control could make a call for the other station. With 25 years working Public Service we learned long ago that if you have the operators that with net control in their own location will hear things better than a net control in a location where there is a lot of activity.
On the changing of frequencies for FLdigi at 10:00 AM from 8o meters to 40 meters caused some problems. I for one forgot to change the frequency in FLdigi, and that put me off frequency until I reset FLdigi. After I sent my first message I could not hear the SEOC, but apparently they could hear me. I think that the SEOC should have stayed on 80 meters as long as it was working.
I think that we need more training on the 205, and we ne need to have all the forms set up the same. There seemed some small differences between what we have in District #3 and what is on FLdigi. They also should be set up to send by voice through the traffic nets. I know that acting as District I did not send in a 205. I should have, but working two frequencies, acting as net control for the district, taking county messages, and sending them in even with help from the DEC it slipped my mine. I know that is not a good reason. I should have had it done before the drill.
All this being said I think it was a good drill. Drills are done to bring out any problems with procedures, equipment, and anything else that can go wrong.
Joe N8OSL D 3 AEC jt14888
Thank you, Joe, for leading the District 3 response for this SET. As an observer and Joe's assistant at his station, it is clear to me that HF digital can move a great deal of information more quickly and more reliably (lower error rate) than can voice comms around the District or from District 3 to the SEOC.
I would liked to have seen greater use of messaging forms such as ICS-213s. We transferred a considerable amount of voice traffic from County ARES groups into ICS-205 format, then transmitted those 205s to SEOC. I'd like to know how reliably that information was received at the SEOC; was it in a useful form?
Overall, I was pleased with the participation rate from District 3 and the effort made by all, from knowledgeable Fldigi users to rank first-timers. We had a good start with this SET and will build our skills and capabilities with the newly re-started District 3 Digital Training Net (Sunday, 8 PM, on 3583 kHz USB in the waterfall) and with an upcoming Spring 2016 District 3-Wide HF Digital Communications Exercise, being planned now. Thanks to John for planning this Exercise, and I can claim that, due to effective ARES communication efforts, District 3 remains zombie-free.