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The Morning After SET 2019 (First Thoughts)

posted Oct 7, 2019, 5:28 AM by C. Matthew Curtin
This past weekend, Central Ohio Traffic Net (COTN) participated in the annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET). We'll release a complete report of COTN exercise objectives, activity, performance, and training objectives by this time next month. Meanwhile, I want to report on a few initial thoughts and to ask for your help.

First, a reminder of why COTN exists: We train amateur radio operators to handle messages for other people and provide a connection between Central Ohio and the rest of the world of third-party message handling via amateur radio. It simply isn't possible for everyone who needs to talk to be directly in touch with everyone they need to reach at all times, which is why the store-and-forward model used by the "traffic system" (and most Internet messaging, for that matter) is so important.

We designed COTN's operation for SET to provide a circuit to allow for messages to flow. We provided outlets for the Ohio EMA (W8SGT) and through it the rest of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), the Ohio Military Reserve (W8OMR) and through it military and government stations operating in other radio services, Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security (W8THV), as well as the traffic system.

We didn't meet just once a day and handle whatever traffic had queued up for us. Knowing that an emergency was present (in simulation), we established operation according to our procedures and made the circuit available. Stations joined as they had the need to connect to any of our outlets, whether to send or to receive. If traffic came in, it could be handled in order of precedence. If traffic got too heavy to move on one circuit, net control directed stations to other frequencies so several messages could move simultaneously. 

Our operation was nearly continuous from six o'clock in the morning until eight o'clock in the evening, with a few extra messages passed in special midnight sessions for good measure. Our schedule allowed for our net control operators, liaison stations, and so on to rotate duties so that COTN could provide continuous service without requiring operators individually to sit at the radio continuously for fourteen hour days. Operators worked collaboratively with each other, covering gaps in the schedule, running long sessions so the next operator could conclude other business and then take over, and taking unscheduled roles. Experienced traffic handlers and brand-new licensees alike helped one another to get the job done. Some operators received, created, and relayed messages for the very first time during this year's SET.

COTN's operation was a great example of how it should work. I have never been more proud of COTN and each of the people who participated.

With a few session reports yet to be filed, our preliminary statistics are outstanding. Using the reports filed as of eight o'clock Monday morning, we can show:

Sessions23
Checkins154
Traffic100
Time22:27
Net Control Stations5
Liaison Stations7

Again, these are the numbers just after we've operated. We're still waiting on reports from two more net control stations. They're all going up from here as the stats compile.

Here's the part where I can use a little more help.

Please send me by email (kd8tte@arrl.net) your thoughts. What did you like about SET operation? What should have gone differently? Did anything confuse you, or otherwise leave you with questions? What do you hope comes out of this? Where do you think we should focus our training and exercises for the next year? All of this will be considered as we create our after-action report and develop the training and exercise plan for the coming year.

Again, thank you for your participation.

C. Matthew Curtin KD8TTE
Central Ohio Traffic Net, Net Manager

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