28 October 2012


Due to the storm approaching our area, and Governor Bob McDonnell's declaration of an emergency in Virginia, the Dept. of Emergency Management (VDEM) has activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), and they have also activated the Amateur Radio Communications Auxiliary (ARCA). This is preparation for the likelihood that some locality's EOCs could lose normal communications routes and need Amateur Radio to communicate their needs to the EOC and their vast resources (even FEMA has a table in the EOC).

I spent ten hours operating the ARCA amateur station at the EOC on Saturday. It was fairly boring since nothing had hit the state by then, but it was nice to be able to get familiar with the equipment again without a lot of pressure. I also discovered that although I was able to access the Internet using the internal WiFi network, I could not access the WebEOC system which is a web-based system used statewide by all EOCs to communicate needs back to the VDEM EOC (which is conveniently located about 3 miles from my house in the basement of the State Police headquarters on Midlothian Turnpike). I emailed the support folks, one gentleman came down and confirmed the problem. A little while later, when the second ham showed up to work, he found them clustered around the servers that host WebEOC (sound familiar?). I happen to glance over at one of the screens and there it is! All loaded up and ready to go. But, now we have no Internet access. And it's affecting everyone who is using the WiFi network. This time, they get the networking folks involved, and within about 20 minutes, everything is working again.

About 11PM, I headed home, as did the other ham. Several others showed up early this morning to cover until 7AM Monday when four more of us (me included) will return for another 12 hour shift (or longer, partially depending on what happens at work on Tuesday). At least they feed us!

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