This morning on the scanner I heard dispatch advising that people were having trouble calling 9-1-1. Apparently they were getting “circuits busy” messages or just getting cut off. I thought to myself, “hmm, wonder how long that will last. Long enough, and we might see an ARES activation.” (one of the contingency plans stations amateur radio operators at published locations who can relay emergencies from the public to the Emergency Operations Center.) Sure enough, a little while later we got the word that we were being requested to activate. I checked in and asked what I could do (our net control operator wasn’t quite sure what to do with me since most people sit in their cars to stay out of the weather and … I don’t have one). He asked me to go to one of the local hospitals and activate the station there. It took a few minutes to get out there (whatever was affecting 9-1-1 was also causing trouble for my out-of-state number calling into the area). After waiting a few minutes for a security escort, I got to the area where we set up. There was a class going on in the room the antenna connection lives in, and I was asked to wait until the class was done before setting up.
All righty then. You’re our servd agency, so whatever you say goes. Sadly, I couldn’t hit the local repeater from the area with my handheld and had to wait until the room cleared. The promised 10 minutes was more like 15, and I got the radio plugged in and turned on just in time to hear our group being told the situation had resolved itself and advising we could stand down.
I’m thinking we might want to put an extension cord in the cabinet. Both for power and the antenna. That way, if this happens again, someone can slip in, hook up and move out of the way. Oh well, in either event I know where the radio is for next time.