Washington State has posted a “Final Draft” AAR (pdf) for the Cascadia Rising exercise held in June of this year. That exercise practiced a response to 9 magnitude Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake. Selected quotes:
There is an urgent need for residents to prepare
Despite the ongoing public education efforts and community preparedness programs, our families, communities, schools, hospitals, and businesses are not prepared for the catastrophic disaster that a worst-case CSZ earthquake would cause.
The typical response to incidents and disasters begins at the local level –dispatch, fire, law enforcement, public works, etc. Once the local level and mutual aid is overwhelmed, requests for support are elevated to the county, then state, and if required to the federal level. This is commonly referred to as a “pull” system, here the highest level of government pulls up only requests for support in order to respond. Cascadia Rising proved this approach is grossly inadequate
the clock is ticking to a humanitarian disaster.
The state’s transportation, communication, and energy networks which are essential to enable a catastrophic response and thus, saving and sustaining lives, are not survivable
There is no long-term recovery strategy or plan
The ability of the SEOC to collect and process information and act on it was overwhelmed.
Importance of CERT and light rescue teams to Urban Search and Rescue.
Ham radio specific:
Areas of Improvement
1.Emergency coordination centers are not prepared to operate in a degraded communications environment over an extended period.
Analysis: The exercise placed a focus on operating in a severely degraded communications environment which is expected based on the damages modeled to telephone and web-based infrastructure in Western Washington. Several local jurisdictions and the State EOC operated for a period of time without telephones or web-based communications (email, web pages, cloud services). The results were mixed. Some jurisdiction emergency management agencies are equipped with back-up forms of communication, with sufficiently trained staff, while others identified emergency communications as an area of improvement either due to lack of equipment, procedures, or training. For the State EOC, multiple forms of alternate communications were successfully used but procedures for effective interaction between the radio room and operations floor had to be improvised on the first day of the exercise.
At the state level, the successful employment of satellite phones, particularly among key leadership was inconsistent. Amateur radio was successfully employed by many jurisdictions and at the state level on a larger scale then previously experienced in recent exercises. The amateur radio teams are voluntary and their engagement and integration with emergency management offices vary.
Continue training and exercising the professional and volunteer community on alternate communication systems, forms, and procedures.
Emergency management agencies and their amateur radio support teams need to establish a habitual relationship and engage with each other on how ARES/RACES can support in both activations and drills. For a few jurisdictions, this engagement merely needs to be sustained. For most jurisdictions, this is an area of improvement. This engagement can be improved through training and drills (emergency managers need to integrate the ARES/RACES teams and provide the material to be used for radio messages); Support and collaboration on the use of formatted digital messages such as the ISNAP form used effectively by many jurisdictions to transmit reports and resource requests via HF radio during the exercise; conducting assessments of equipment and radios and discussionon ways to achieve effective systems as required. The state must develop a state-wide operational communications plan as part of the overarching effort to improve catastrophic planning. EMD should also develop an amateur radio SOP and sustain periodic training and exercises to foster amateur radio teamwork across 13 jurisdictions. Cascadia Rising demonstrated the need for jurisdictions in Western Washington and Eastern Washington to strengthen their capability to communicate effectively via alternate forms of communication (i.e. not telephone, email).