A series of earthquakes rocked Eastern California on Tuesday, each rippling with a magnitude of up to 3.0 across Arizona and Utah. More quakes are expected along the West Coast in the near future, and local radio operators are preparing for similar activity in Arizona.
Private radio operators and counties throughout Arizona participated in a statewide exercise on Wednesday to test their abilities to respond to a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. The exercise presented a hypothetical 7.0 earthquake in Yavapai County, and allowed all other agencies, operators and counties to evaluate their current disaster plans and procedures.
The exercise simulated massive structure damage, communication disruption and impacts of a seismic event in Arizona. The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), along with county emergency operations centers, remained active throughout the day-long exercise.
“The state, through the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs runs a different scenario every year,” said Mohave County Emergency Management Coordinator Byron Steward. “It’s meant to test the capability of the counties and the state to respond to the consequences of an earthquake.”
The exercise began at 8 a.m. Wednesday, allowing Mohave County to test various means of communication with the state through various radio networks. “Even though the ‘quake’ was in Yavapai County, it gives us a chance to test our own communications,” Steward said.
Federally licensed amateur radio operators worked closely with Emergency Management services after this week’s real earthquakes, said Charlie Kotan, of the London Bridge Amateur Radio Association.
“We’re doing a fine job,” Kotan said. “We’re a part of a lot of simulated emergency testing. It’s absolutely necessary – if we don’t prepare, nothing is going to work (in the event of a disaster). We need to get used to thinking on our feet, and deal with the reality rather than the plan.”
The Association and the Mohave Amateur Radio Club often participate in regular simulated emergency tests on a county, state and federal level.