Several volunteers with the American Red Cross of Southern Missouri participated in an amateur radio simplex exercise in March. The exercise involved hospitals, county agencies and local partnerships in the Springfield and surrounding areas.
There were a total of 19 agencies which included the American Red Cross offices in Springfield and Joplin.
The exercise started with the agencies checking into a net control using a linked repeater system (Southwest Missouri Linked Repeater System), which connects several repeaters from Stockton Lake area over to the Rolla area. A radio repeater is used to retransmit a signal at a higher level so it can cover greater distances.
After reporting into net control, each agency then attempted to make contact with an agency that was below them in the list of agencies using a designated simplex (radio to radio) frequency that is used in the District D Missouri Highway Patrol area.
After that was attempted and completed, the agencies that had HF (high frequency) radio capability would attempt to make contact with net control. The Red Cross in Springfield was the only office of the Springfield/ Joplin Red Cross offices that had a workable HF setup to make contact. The contact was then made on a designated frequency set up by the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) for use in case of an emergency.
The purpose of the exercise was to see if agencies could communicate without the use of repeaters in the event of an emergency and none of the local repeaters were available, either due to the lack of electricity or the repeater tower was disabled due to the disaster.
I had two radios; one was used for the simplex frequency which is also the tall metal pole with a mag mount antenna on top. The shorter pole was used to access the repeater that the exercise was using. Two radios are used so any communication during the exercise could be monitored without changing frequencies.
Red Cross volunteers not only manned radios at the Red Cross, but several Red Cross volunteers also manned radios at other agencies which they also volunteer their time to as well. The local amateur radio clubs in both Springfield and Joplin as well as the County ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) groups ask their members to also volunteer with the Red Cross (though it is not a requirement), so they can assist with radio communications if the need arises in time of disaster.
Anyone wishing to volunteer with a club through the American Radio Relay League can go to www.ARRL.org.
If you wish to volunteer with the American Red Cross of Southern Missouri, go to www.redcross.org/mo/springfield or call (417) 832-9500.
–Thomas A Zeller, Red Cross volunteer