Gabriola’s role in Exercise Coastal Response
The exercise called Coastal Response has now concluded. This was the largest simulated emergency exercise ever held in the Province. The scenario was a magnitude 9 earthquake off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Multiple agencies participated in the event some of which were Provincial Government agencies, the Canadian Forces, the Salvation Army, other Federal Government agencies and amateur radio. In addition to British Columbia the US states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho also participated in the US drill called Cascadia Rising.
Due to the fact that Port Alberni “went dark” for 24 hours after the event communications needed to be established. “ Going Dark” means all the usual forms of communications, cell phones, telephone lines, satellite phones suffer degradation causing the loss of communications. To assist with communications amateur radio stations were set up at the Emergency Operations Centre, the “Mass Casualty Centre,” the Reception Centres, the “temporary residence” and the food centre. All of these stations were in Port Alberni. In addition amateur radio stations outside the affected area were established. Locally the Nanaimo Emergency Operations Centre and the Gabriola Fire Hall emergency communications centre were activated.
The Nanaimo and Gabriola stations established contact with the Provincial Regional Emergency Communications Centres of Emergency Management British Columbia in Victoria and Kamloops.
The Nanaimo station was stood down around noon on day one after it was determined there was “no local damage from the initial event or aftershocks” The Gabriola station remained active all day on day one. Activity resumed on day two until the evening of day two when communications in Port Alberni were “reestablished” The Gabrola station became a central hub for digital communications between Port Alberni and the Operations Centre in Victoria. and on the evening of day two coordinated two different communications check ins involving amateur radio stations from around the Province.
A total of four radio operators were active in the Gabriola Station during this event.
The Gabriola station continues to look for volunteers to assist with the operations of the station. They are also in need of funds to purchase equipment in order that assistance can be provided to Gabriola Island and others.
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