In preparation for a major government exercise in 2016 ("Cascadia Rising"), Radio Relay International volunteers, operating under the auspices of NTS at the time, were tasked with providing connectivity between Alaska, Idaho, Northern California, Oregon and Washington State, and the FEMA National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. At that time, it became obvious that an appropriate "National Response Plan" had not been in place since the early Cold War era. As a result, a prototype plan was developed by RRI volunteers to govern the Cascadia Rising exercise. The results were excellent and the plan has since been updated regularly in response to an on-going cycle of emergency communications exercises conducted by RRI and in response to actual disaster operations. A copy of the RRI "National Emergency Communications Response Guidelines" can be found below.
Radio Relay International normally conducts between two and four emergency exercises per year. These exercises range in complexity from testing individual network layers and components, to functional and full-scale exercises in cooperation with external agencies. Examples include on-going exercises with U.S. Army MARS Region Two, Navy Medical System exercises, and on-going support of various local and state emergency management exercises occurring throughout the United States and Canada.
RRI networks utilize an "open access" concept in which common denominator networks using basic modes such as voice and CW nets are combined with more advanced infrastructure systems such as the RRI Digital Traffic Network, a modified hybrid mesh network operating in the HF spectrum to ensure survivability.
In cooperation with the Winlink Development Team, RRI operates a series of region gateways.designed to expedite the flow and distribution of record message traffic (e.g. radiograms and radiogram-ICS213 messages) between the systems. Special editing templates are available within the Winlink RMS program, which walk inexperienced radio operators through the process of creating a properly serviced radiogram or radiogram-ICS213 message. These templates provide guidance while suppressing disallowed formatting or content. Messages originated via Winlink are routed to the destination RRI region, from which the gateway operators can select the most appropriate network to expedite routing and delivery to the served agency addressee. This fully interoperable concept allows a message to pass between networks and radio services intact with full accountability and tracking. This process is tested on an on-going basis at random times thanks to the cooperation of U.S. Army MARS.
RRI has developed three specialized message formats designed to facilitate situational awareness, weather observation, and operational readiness reporting. The latter format supports our "Network Coordinator" process through which individual traffic stations active in disaster response report their status and connectivity to various communications networks and their access to served agencies. From this operational readiness data, a modified ICS205 spreadsheet is created through which network volunteers can identify the best routings for messages addressed to various agencies, thereby ensuring timely delivery of priority or emergency message traffic. This concept is unique to RRI.
RRI conducts an on-going cycle of emergency communications training classes, which are open to all radio amateurs as well as emergency services professionals. Below one can find more information on our classes, prerequisites, and documents.
Check here for information on upcoming/current emergency communications exercises or emergency response operations. "After action" evaluation reports will be posted to our "publications" section. RRI conducts between two and five exercises, both internally and with external served agencies or organizations per year.