Oregon ARES Drill Scenario to Simulate Double Virus and Hypothetical Terrorist Attack


On November 8 in Oregon, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) emergency preparedness drill known as the Simulated Emergency Test (SET) will use an exercise scenario focusing on viruses — biological and computer — that wreak havoc on the state’s communication systems.

The drill begins with a simulated highly contagious bird flu virus that spreads to the state’s borders, overwhelming hospitals and leading to mass panic. A day later, the drill moves to a simulated widespread internet shutdown owing to what’s called the “stepper virus.” If that weren’t enough, it goes on to include a hypothetical virus that would cause the shutdown of digital processors in wireline and cell towers.

The scenario also involves power companies and government telecommunications being affected. Participants will be told that ham radio repeaters are on back-up power or have failed and will have to stretch their skills accordingly. Ultimately, the exercise will simulate the introduction of biological and computer viruses by a state-sponsored terrorist organization that is trying to find vulnerabilities in the state’s infrastructure. Then, exercise participants will train local officials on using VHF and HF radios.

As the exercise continues, ARES volunteers will need to set up high-powered stations in remote areas to communicate with urban centers. After participants prove that ARES would be able to maintain telecommunication links for several days, the exercise simulated storm damage to antennas on county emergency operations centers (EOCs).

This multi-step exercise scenario is designed to encourage ARES volunteers to use their ingenuity and training to restore communications when faced with a multifaceted disaster event. “The MacGyver among you will have the opportunity to solve this problem, gain extra points, and help your county shine while teaching us all something new,” said Grant County ARES Emergency Coordinator Steve Fletcher, K7AA, who outlined the description of the scenario.

Oregon ARES teams will join with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management in conducting the drill. More information is on the Oregon ARES website. — Thanks to John S. Sanders, KE7JSS, Oregon Section Public Information Officer

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