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Members of Alachua County ARES will be participating in a Hospital
communications drill on Wednesday March 12, 2008 during the hours from
9:00 am - noon.  Communications will take place on the 146.820 MHZ
repeater. There will be a disaster drill at the UF Stadium in
conjunction with the Hospital drill that is being coordinated by
Alachua County Emergency Management and the Athletic Association.

GARC is participating from the W4DFU station at the Dental Tower and 
will be using satellite communications to relay an email message to 
demonstrate the ability to get electronic communications out even with 
a massive wide-spread loss of the Internet.

Below are some references for why hams should be involved with the 
hospitals and some actual experience during exercises and events.

1) Interoperable Communications System

Since FY 2003 the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) has required that hospitals and
health departments establish communications redundancy, ensuring that
if one communications system fails, other technologies can be
implemented in order to maintain communications.  HHS is strongly
encouraging all participating hospitals, healthcare partnerships, and
State Departments of Health to develop up to four tiers of
communications redundancy comprised of the following:

o	Tier 1: Landline and Cellular Telephones
o	Tier 2: Two-Way VHF/UHF Radio
o	Tier 3: Satellite Telephone
o	Tier 4: Amateur (HAM) Radio

2) Recurring pitfalls in Hospital Preparedness and Response

The pitfalls have been summarized in a brief report for the Homeland
Security journal in 2004.

http://www.homelandsecurity.org/journal/Articles/rubin.html

Here is what the report says about communications:

Communications

Intrafacility communications during exercises and actual events have
been described as “difficult,” “inconsistent,” “marginal,” and
“nonexistent.” Phones are overloaded, radios—when available—are
insufficient in number, range, and frequency options (or a combination
of those), and staff commonly lack adequate training in communications
procedures or equipment operation. This should come as little
surprise, because similar complaints are expressed about everyday
operations—that is, a system that doesn’t work well under normal
conditions shouldn’t be expected to do so under extreme stress. Few
facilities devote planning or resources to external communications.

Although most acute-care facilities are able to use the Hospital
Emergency Area Radio network, it was designed for short communications
between EMS providers and EDs as well as limited interfacility
traffic; it was not intended for continuous heavy traffic among
multiple parties. Many hospitals host licensed amateur radio operators
during disasters; the ham networks provide an important communications
resource, allowing voice, data, and even video transmissions among
incident scenes, hospitals, emergency operations centers, and other
critical facilities.

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