by SPC True Thao
364th Press Camp Headquarters
3/29/2014 - VALDEZ, Alaska -- The
city of Valdez participated in Alaska Shield 14, a disaster exercise
hosted by State of Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency
Management with federal, state, local community, and Non-Government
Organization participation. The exercise started with an aftershock that
put the city into a communication blackout - no phones or internet
Local officials worked with amateur radio operators to help re-gain communication with the outside world.
"We are providing amateur radio support for Alaska Shield 2014," said
Robert Rountree, president of the amateur radio club. "We have an
amateur radio group here in town that provides emergency
communications." Rountree said that the group's purpose is to respond to
emergencies just like those in the exercise scenario.
Amateur radio communication allows local citizens to ask for emergency
aid if needed. Once a message is received by the Emergency Operation
Center, the group works closely with Joint Task Force Alaska to
re-establish communication across the affected regions.
To aid the city, Joint Task Force Alaska, mobilized the Alaska Land
Mobile Radio (ALMR) transportable system that was able to reestablish
"We are here to provide the critical communications capabilities
required for the citizens to do their jobs," said Tim Woddall, ALMR
military liaison with Joint Task Force Alaska.
The ALMR systems provide Alaskan public safety first responders with
interoperable communications that are cost effective and reliable.
Having this type of equipment allows citizens to have access to the
Internet and use of their cell phones. The ALRM transportable also
minimizes the wait time when trying to contact loved ones.
"During an emergency operation, we can bring this in and increase the
loading capacity, which means we can allow more users to operate without
having busy signals," said Woddall.
The state of Alaska also assisted the city of Valdez by deploying the
National Guard's 128th Air Control Squadron from Volk Field Air National
Guard Base, located near Camp Douglas in Wisc., which reestablished
secure communications using the Joint Incident Site Communication
Capability system. JISCC provides on-site and reach-back communications
capabilities for enhanced command and control and shared situational
awareness among first responders, along with state and federal command
authorities and centers.
"Our mission here is to help this emergency operation center do its
communications," said Senior Master Sgt. Charles Rydmark, the
Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the 128th ACS team.
Using the JISCC systems allows the 128th ACS to cross-patch radios,
according to Rydmark, enabling communication between the local law
enforcement and the military. This type of equipment carries and
enhances communication networks where it may be limited or where there
"We've got to that day and age where everything is digital. And we can
bring that communication to anywhere in the world no matter what," said
Rydmark. "That's our mission."
Working together, these military and civilian capabilities will help
local authorities establish vital communications links to enable
successful response, recovery, and ongoing incident management
Alaska Shield is a State of Alaska, U.S. Government, joint military, and
local government disaster exercise designed to enhance cooperation and
response to a large earthquake in the region. The exercise is designed
on the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake that devastated south central Alaska