Sunday, 8 January 2012

Winter Deployment Training

You don't need to be a genius to figure out that emergencies can happen at any time of the year, and that holding practice deployments only during the warmer months isn't going to help you when you get called out at midnight on a sub-zero, and very snowy mid-February night!  
One only has to remember back 14 years ago today, January 8th, 1998, when the people of Frontenac County awoke to the biggest ice storm in a century, to know that as a member of an ARES group, one never knows when the call will come.  One hopes a callout will never come, but you must be prepared....just in case.  There is a lot of truth to the phrase "practice makes perfect".

So it felt very strange this morning, with the temperature at -5C, no wind, no snow on the ground and a brilliant blue sky, to be heading off to Rotary Park with nine other members for a winter deployment training session with the Frontenac County ARES group.  

Dave VA3ORP, our training officer, took us through several subjects including how to dress in layers, and the best type of boots.  Dave also went over the use of the buddy system, and checking each other over periodically for frostbite.  We were reminded that it doesn't take long for hypothermia, or frostbite, to set in and those items need to be looked after immediately.

Other topics included the effect of cold on our equipment, the danger that abrupt changes in temperature (from outside to inside) could have on the equipment with condensation.  The effect of freezing temperatures have on coax, and ways of keeping things dry.  We also talked about how easy it is in the snow to lose bits of kit......normally the important bits go first!

We ended the session by putting up and guying a portable mast system, designed to hold a VHF antenna and a HF dipole.  It was interesting to see it go up, and who had to take their gloves off to make it happen.

All in all it was a great training session, for those members who are ex-military it was a good refresher, and it'll probably bring back a few nightmares of sleeping naked in a sleeping bag, in a snow hole, at -45C....I get cold just remembering it!

This morning was a good lead up for Winter Field Day, an event every ARES and EmComm group should support.

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