This year's SET is going to be a departure from previous years in a big way for Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) Emergency Coordinators (ECs). You should expect to have a lot more fun than usual: you're exercise players, not controllers. We're not asking you to create any exercise scenario or even to inject "local intelligence" into the exercise play. What we will be asking is that you play the role of Emergency Coordinator, take information as it comes, respond to requests for resources, activate stations, and achieve objectives spelled out by served agencies. A video at the bottom of this page walks through the major parts of preparation, should you prefer that to this text.
How to Prepare
The SET is October 3-4. Information leading up to activation will come out in the days ahead, and on Friday, October 2, you should expect to be contacted by a served agency, played by one of our exercise controllers.
Talk up the SET! The Emergency Coordinator is a critical role: the coordinator of all ARES activity, but not the doer of all ARES activity. Fire up your team, motivate them to play, in whatever capacity they can.
Determine your hours of play on October 3-4. SET is 48 hours long and we encourage activation that will allow for points to accumulate for the entire 48-hour period.
Determine your force strength. How many players will you have, and when will they be available for you to deploy? If you don't have the personnel to play as long as you would like, don't worry. You can request additional resources through your DEC.
Determine how your group will be contacted on October 2. In reality, ECs have relationships with their agencies. We're working with various agencies to simulate that local relationship with the ECs.
Register! Register your team to play to be activated by agency actors; if your team is not registered, it will not be activated by our controllers.
Practice critical skills. The County Information Report Project 20 has issued objectives for every EC in Ohio. Each EC should confirm with their DEC that they are credited for the completed objectives. If your county is behind, take the time now to catch up! You'll establish and exercise skills needed in the exercise.
Review Form A to see where points will be credited. Form A is the ARRL SET Emergency Coordinator Report. See the Ohio Section Journal, August 2020, p. 41, "Prepare for SET: Be Ready to Activate" for line-by-line commentary on the form.
If you have a county net, work with your net manager (if you have one) to review Form B to see where net points will be credited. Form A is only half of the equation. You need Form B to get credit for activity in your net such as moving messages. See the same Ohio Section Journal article for line-by-line commentary on Form B.
Create your message for your agencies and the press. If you do not have an ARRL Public Information Officer, request help from your DEC. You'll want to give some basic information, short and sweet, that will go to your agencies, as well as for the press. Let them know that you're activating, why you're activating, and what your team does for the community.
What to Expect
At 8:00 P.M. (Ohio time) on September 29, the exercise build-up will begin. Expect military and government radio activity on 60m. Expect information from the media, from agencies, and the ARRL Ohio Section. That build up will give you the information that you need to know for specific objectives for weekend activation.
What you know today is that whether you're a District or County EC, you need the ability to use radio-only messaging to communicate both to those you support, and to those who support you. You need the ability to activate stations. Your teams need the ability to perform communication tasks, including both tactical (verbal, non-written) and record (written, formal) messaging. Your teams will also need to operate in realistic emergency response mode. Firing up the EOC for a couple of hours isn't going to get the job done this year. Not even close.
This exercise will be a challenge. You and your volunteers can expect to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in your service if you perform well. Your performance will be measured and included in reports that go well beyond the boundaries of amateur radio volunteers. Served agencies in Ohio will see these results and they will influence how amateur radio is perceived as a public service.
Removing the concern of exercise control, we're giving you the ability to focus on performance of the tasks ECs need. We are providing you additional resources in the form of training that will make those who follow the program able to perform the tasks at hand, and in fact have them performing those tasks ahead of SET, so that when the time comes, they simply do what they have already done many times in the previous weeks, with the people who have joined them in that training,
By now you should be actively participating in the County Information Report Project 20. This is critical warm-up for the operators that you'll be depending on to achieve the tasks put before the ARES organizations at the local level, and all of their support functions at the District and Section levels, including exercise of National Traffic System (NTS) and independent traffic resources.
Where to Get Additional Help
As the EC for your county, you are the face of ARES in your county, but you are not alone, left to do the entire job yourself and with the volunteers in your county. Your program is a part of a coordinated service; your DEC can align the needs and resources of your district to give you help where you need, and to have you give help where you can. The service doesn't end there, though: the DEC is supported by the Section Emergency Coordinator, who can in turn coordinate among districts. The Ohio Section also has message relay nets that exist to move messages from and to your county. This exercise is designed to show you not only your own program's capabilities but how the system works together. You don't need to do the whole job, but you do need to coordinate with those in roles to support you to get the resources you need to complete the task at hand. Make use of the resources available and help your volunteers perform at their best.