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Marshall Medical Center / EDCARC ARES Emergency Simulation

Two logos: "MARSHALL" with a stylized 'M', and "El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club" with an emblem.

On January 31, 2023, Marshall Medical Center (MMC) in Placerville California enlisted the help of Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) members from the El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club (EDCARC) to provide communications support during a 6-hour training drill that simulated a multi-day major winter weather-related emergency which involved the full activation of MMC's Emergency Operations Center, multiple main campus departments, as well as several multiple MMC off-site facilities/locations.

This event provided EDCARC ARES members an opportunity to perform emergency response exercises alongside one of our valued community members, as well as demonstrate the viability of multiple modes of communication. Several facets of MMC's Hospital Incident Command System were exercised, including:

  • several modes of communication such as voice, data, local radios, and several modes of HAM-based communications
  • UHF/VHF voice and data/packet communications via WinLink to multiple off-site locations. 

Early in the exercise, MMC simulated losing the ability to communicate with the outside world through traditional telephone services.

  • ARES members immediately filled the gap utilizing Amateur Radio voice and data over packet radio (WinLink) to provide a seamless ability for MMC's Emergency Operations Center to continue to operate and provide vital services to the community.
  • ARES members further demonstrated their abilities by being able to actually transmit actual Hospital Incident Command System forms over WinLink between sites, which allowed hospital staff to take action in a known communication format, and immediately complete their assigned duties with minimal disruption.

During the after-exercise debrief, it was noted that the:

  • integration of EDCARC ARES was the major factor in the ability for Marshall Medical Center to remain in constant contact with all of their off-site locations, and as a viable community resource.
  • EDCARC ARES team successfully demonstrated to MMC hospital administration and staff that ARES can be an essential resource for emergency communication response that can be an integral part of MMC’s need for expanded communication options for future training and actual events.

The partnership of MMC and EDCARC ARES was made possible by the lead evaluator of this drill, Mike Sumersille (callsign: N7MSS) who is MMC’s Emergency Management Coordinator and also EDCARC’s ARES Emergency Coordinator.

A hearty thank you and congratulations on a job well done to all the EDCARC ARES members who participated in this event to support our community, which included JR Harmon (K6LBP), Tony Miller (W6QA), Jeremy Dean (W6TKD), and John O'Keefe (KM6AIX) operated radio stations simulating multiple dispersed MMC facility locations, while Jay Harmor (KE6GLA) worked directly in MMC's Emergency Operations Center as lead communications controller for the event. Gary Boal (W6GLB) also supported this event.

(All photos taken by Mike Sumersille, N7MSS)