City-Wide CERT Drill
Sunday November 7, 2010

CERT Teams did a City-Wide exercise in Mountain View on Sunday, November 7, 2010 and set new records for participation and technology. Here's the story, with pictures below.

We had 8 neighborhood CERTs activate, either with members in their neighborhood calling in incidents, or on a "tabletop" basis. Each neighborhood either had their own ham, or a ham assigned by Jerry Haag. Almost all of the hams also had packet radio.

In addition, we had 4 mobile teams, each with at least one ham and one CERT member.

Mobile 1 had two Red Cross related folks and they were assigned to do a building size-up for each of the 8 potential shelter sites in Mountain View. For legal reasons, the Red Cross will only open a shelter after a City Building Inspector has OKed the site, but by sending a CERT/Ham team out we could determine if there was any serious damage and help prioritize where the City inspector should be sent.

Mobile 2-4 were assigned to do windshield surveys of the CERT areas where there were not enough players to do their area. They had a "Survey Criteria" (attached) for how to identify incidents in the neighborhoods surveyed. They had a great time doing it too!

In addition, we activated the FM broadcast radio a Mountain view High School with a drill message.

All the neighborhood CERT teams and Mobiles 2-4 used the standard Damage Assessment form (link below) that we've used at the annual County Drill for the ICS Exercise. At about half hour intervals, the teams were asked to total up their Damage Assessment forms and enter the totals on an ICS 213 Summary Form. (attached) This was then transmitted to the MTV EOC at 1000 Villa, either via packet or voice. We received over 40 messages in under two hours.

Now for the ultra cool new technology. Andy Rose wrote a software program that runs in the Ham Shack using Outpost data and tied in to the LAN that serves the EOC itself. It captures a PacForm ICS 213 Summary form, and - ready for this - put it into a database that looks like a spreadsheet and it is automatically displayed by the projector in the ceiling of the EOC on a big screen. There is a totals row at the top of the table to show city-wide results at a glance. (Imges below.)

For each neighborhood CERT, it shows all of the columns from the Damage Assessment form, and puts the time the form was sent by the CERT at the end of the line. Each time there is an update to the table, the database is automatically archived so you have a complete log of how the data built up over time. If there is no input from a CERT, or if an individual field was left blank, the line or cell has a dash ("-"). If the field was "0" then you get a "0" on the screen. When a CERT sends in the next update, their line is automatically replaced with the new data.

We entered the voice received ICS 213 Summaries (written out) using a separate computer that "mailed" a PacForm to Outpost over the internal LAN.

I'm describing it as it works today, but we did have a breakdown on Sunday when someone used a County Logistics PacForm and Andy's program had a brain fart -- it's been fixed now. Not bad for essentially a live, flying beta test of new software.

It was a great exercise and we had 32 people in the EOC for a debrief at 1530, and at least a dozen more people participated during the drill but didn't come to the EOC for the debrief -- and this on a rainy day! Everyone seemed very happy with the result, and there was a good connection between the CERT folks and the Ham folks -- each got to understand and appreciate the other's perspective.

Our new Fire Chief, Bard Wardell, is delighted with the system and is a big supporter of CERT as a way to collect neighborhood-level information and get it to the EOC. Now that we have this capability, Lynn is working on integrating the new tool into the EOC operations.

At a coffee klatch this morning at Starbucks, Jim Clark, N6JRC, Jerry & Andy were kicking around how this might be used at the County level. I think Andy would be happy to share the software with the packet teams from other cities if they would like to try it.

Links below include the Ham Script for the drill which identifies the various players and the flow for the drill. Also attached is our current "Comm Plan" identifying which FRS/GMRS frequencies are used by each neighborhood CERT, and both their voice Tactical call signs and their packet call signs, and the ICS 213 CERT Neighborhood Summary..

Ham Script: Ham Script 11-7-10.doc
Comm Plan: Comm Plan -j.doc
ICS 213 Summary: ICS 213 Summary.doc
ICS 213 Summary - Packet: 213 Summary Packet.html
Damage Assessment Form: Assessment-General 10-08.doc
Red Cross / Windshield Survey Assignments: 11-7-10 Windshield - Size Up Assignments.doc


Rick Van Mell

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213 Summary - CERT Original
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213 Summary - Voice Received
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213 Summary - Packet Original
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213 Summary - Packet Printed
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213 Summary - Packet Direct
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EOC Summary Display
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213 Water Main Break
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Starting from Zero!
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Bob Fishman &
Andy Rose
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Barbara Luedtke &
Steve Hill ...
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With Frank Weiss,
Mobile Team 1
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Phil Henderson at
the Packet Station
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Messages coming fast!
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First automated report!
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Lynn sends a reply
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Errors show up!
note duplicate lines
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Debrief crowd gathers ...
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lots to compare ...
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and happy about it too ...
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we've got a full house ...
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wall to wall!