Successful Red Cross Emergency Communications Spring 2021 Drill Summary

This reference courtesy ARRL ARES Letter dated May 19, 2021 —

Successful Red Cross Emergency Communications Spring 2021 Drill Summary

The Red Cross Emergency Communications Training Group held its third nationwide drill on Saturday, May 8. The results are still being compiled and checked as this is written, but it appears that approximately 800 radio amateurs took part in sending traffic via Winlink to one of eight Red Cross Divisional Clearinghouses around the nation.

The Training Group has two overarching goals: to attract and train a large number of radio amateurs in the basic use of Winlink; and then to incrementally raise the bar to higher levels of proficiency. To accomplish this, Winlink Thursday training ops were held all winter.

For the May 8 nationwide drill, participants were asked to send two Winlink messages – a Winlink check-in form providing GPS coordinates of the station, and a second message containing a Red Cross Shelter Requisition Form 6409. The valid GPS coordinates were mapped and displayed in real time during the drill. A challenge for the second message was that the sample Form 6409 had been filled in by hand, to provide a more realistic scenario than a neatly typed one. Operators had to transcribe/type in the requisition items.

The use of RF, rather than telnet (internet), to send Winlink messages was encouraged, and more than 80 percent of participants used their radios — either via HF or VHF/UHF. This percentage number and message accuracy rate have continually risen during the Winlink Thursday drills.

Because the May 8 date was also World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, international hams were invited to participate, and more than 50 checked in from Central and South America, Canada, Germany, and South Africa. For more information about the Red Cross Emergency Communications Training Group, visit the group’s website and sign up for its group email service to receive announcements of future activities. — Red Cross Emergency Communications Training Group