US ShakeOut 2020

By | October 2, 2020

ShakeOut 2020 is quickly approaching. ShakeOut is a wonderful opportunity to have an exercise focused on activating your radio groups.
It can be local, regional or national. Moreover, ShakeOut is a great way to get your household involved in preparedness.

We would like to share our thoughts and – hopefully – some inspiration, for those groups that would like to get involved in their own ShakeOut Exercises.

1. Date: The official ShakeOut date is October 15, 10:15AM.
However, you can organize it whenever it fits your schedules best.
ARES LAX and Ventura ARES/ACS, for example, are conducting their amateur radio emergency exercises on Saturday, October 17th.

We encourage our operators to get their households involved and come up with a family communications and preparedness plan on the official ShakeOut Day. There is a lot of good preparedness information on the ShakeOut website that applies to many disaster situations and may help get your family better prepared.
Please take a look
ShakeOut Resources:
7 Steps:  L.A. County Emergency Survival Guide:
2. Amateur Radio Exercises
a. DYFI Report: we encourage everyone to send in a DYFI Exercise Winlink report during any earthquake related exercise, preferably via RF (but Telnet is certainly acceptable). Ideally, exercise DYFI reports are coordinated with a time and date to make the exercise more meaningful.

Ventura ARES/ACS member, Stu Sheldon AG6AG, also set up an email server that can log DYFI reports in addition to the USGS.  Just add into the email “To” or “CC” address fields and you will get an acknowledge email back to your Winlink address if the server received it ok. (Thanks to Andy K3CAQ for sharing that!) 

Practice helps! After the recent M4.5 near El Monte in Los Angeles County about three dozen stations in our area sent in REAL EVENT DYFI reports using amateur radio. They leveraged the exercise practice they had into real reports. Moreover, even though the internet and regular communications channels were unaffected during that earthquake, sending the DYFI reports via amateur radio demonstrated that amateur radio operators stand ready to step up when regular paths of communications will be compromised.
b. Agency Traffic: after DYFI reports are sent ARES LAX will pivot to local agency traffic. For us that means Hospital Status Assessments, Resource Requests and more.

For you and your group it may mean different types of traffic.
One way to make your exercises meaningful and engaging is to allow your operators to send traffic they would expect to send after an earthquake (or any disaster) in your area.  That could be damage reports, hospital traffic, EOC messages, and so on. 
The goal is to make the exercises fun and engaging.

  c. Preparation: Having an Incident Action Plan (IAP) and an Communications Plan (ICS205) is a great way of involving your operators in the planning and cooperating with groups over a larger area, too.
The IAP ideally only lays out the objectives in broad strokes and leaves the details to the respective groups or individual operators. It also provides an idea of the available resources. It also helps with the gap analysis and the after-action review. Nothing is perfect.
The ICS205 can help avoid interference and makes sure everyone is on the same frequency page.
Simple is always better.

3. ShakeOut Registration
  You may want to consider registering you amateur radio group on the ShakeOut website. 
You do not have to be located in “earthquake country” to register. The key point is preparedness and practice for all our communities.

It is good PR for your group and ShakeOut even has a separate entry for “Volunteer Radio Groups”. Check out the radio groups groups currently registered for ShakeOut 2020 in CA, for example: And showing that you are registered is a smart way to show your communities and served agencies that you are continuing to practice and prepare.