100 Hams Support Airport Disaster Drill

(Dulles, VA May 8, 2004) - After months of planning and preparation, more than one hundred volunteer radio operators from Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) organizations, from seven counties over two states, provided emergency communications support for the Dulles International Airport disaster drill on Saturday, May 8. The drill consisted of a "mock" airplane crash with a fire, and with the treatment and transport of 200 volunteer "victims" to ten area hospitals by helicopter, ambulance and bus.

In order to provide communications between agencies at the "crash" site, patient transportation, and at participating hospitals, volunteer amateur radio operators set up several portable repeaters on and around the airport grounds

The volunteer radio operators also provided a live Amateur TV (ATV) link between the "crash" site and the airport Operations Center to allow airport management to monitor the progress of the drill.

Using portable radios, some hams "shadowed" selected officials at the "crash" site in order to provide instant communications to other temporary operational areas on and around the airport.

Volunteer Radio operators rode the buses that transported ambulatory "victims" to local hospitals, providing voice communications and real-time position data via Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS). Still other hams were stationed at ten area hospitals to help coordinate the arrival and departure of the "victims".

Hams from the following counties in Maryland participated in the drill: Montgomery and Prince Georges. Hams from the following counties in Virginia participated in the drill: Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Prince William.

(Photos available, if requested.)

73, Larry Hughes, K3HE
PIO, ARRL, Virginia Section
(Filling in for Randy Sly, W4RSA)