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Local emergency agencies to hold special exercise March 16

By TRAVIS MORSE Sentinel News Staff
Feb 29, 2024
                                        EXERCISE PLANNED — A special exercise will be held March 16 to test local communications capabilities in the event of a
                                        major system outage.  Pictured is the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency Mobile Communications Trailer.

MOUNT VERNON — Emergency response agencies in Mount Vernon and Jefferson County will hold a special exercise on March 16 to test local communications capabilities in the event of a major system outage.

During the week of Feb. 22, AT&T users saw sporadic system outages. However,what would happen if all communications failed and emergency messages hadto get through? This exact scenario is what offi cials will be testing on March 16.

According to an event news release, the Jefferson County EmergencyManagement Agency (EMA), Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) and theAmateur Radio Club of Mt. Vernon (ARCOM) will come together for a jointemergency communications exercise from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 16 at theJeff erson County Historical Village in Mount Vernon.

The public is invited to attend the exercise. Specifically, the event is targetedtoward anyone interested in learning about emergency radio capabilities, hamradio or in getting licensed as a ham operator, the release states.

The exercise will test emergency radio procedures prior to the April 8 solar eclipse that will affect southern Illinois and surrounding states. The primary goal of the exercise is to pass a message from Massac County in far southernIllinois to West Chicago, Illinois, using amateur radio relays with no otherinfrastructure needed, the release states.

"Radio communication can provide a vital link to resources during natural disasters, terrorist events or communication infrastructure failure," said ARCOM President and ARES Emergency Coordinator Steve Warner.

Jefferson County EMA Assistant Director Keith Hertenstein, club secretary for ARCOM, also remarked on the significance of the upcoming exercise. "It is important for the fact (that) we are testing our emergency capabilities tomake sure (that) the high frequency and simplex radio capabilities we have inthe county work the way (that) they're supposed to and that we don't have tomodify any of our existing procedures," Hertenstein said.

The Jefferson County Historical Village is located at 1411 N. 27th St. in Mount Vernon.

The Jefferson County EMA is pleased to announce 2024 Skywarn Storm Spotter Training.
The Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency has once again partnered with the City of Mt. Vernon Emergency Management Agency, Amateur Radio Club of Mt. Vernon and Mt. Vernon Outland Airport to offer a free Skywarn Spotter training session on March 19th, 2024. The free training session will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, at the Mt. Vernon Outland Airport at 100 Aviation Drive in Mt. Vernon. The Basic Storm Spotter class is two-and-a-half hours and all program materials are included.

Pre-Registration is required, to register, visit www.weather.gov/pah/spottertraining. If anyone wishes to register but does not have internet or needs help registering he or she may register by calling (618) 244-8000 extension 0 and if no one answers, leave a message with their name, phone number, email & city of residence.