Spanish Emergency Communicators involved in major exercises.

Spanish Radio Amateurs have been involved with two major exercises recently, raising the profile of the Amateur Service and testing their own skills.  

In the first exercise several teams of the spanish Emergency Radio Network (REMER, Red Radio de Emergencia), a group of 4000 amateur radio operators which is integrated in the Spanish General Directorate of Civil Protection and Emergencies, participated in the international exercise PRES EU 2010,  which took place at the Madrid Barajas International Airport on June 26th. This exercise was funded as part of European Union Project "EU Rapid Response Capability 7".

The exercise simulated an accident resulting from a plane leaving the runway on landing and crashing into a building in which radioactive substances for hospital use were stored. This exercise envisaged the possibility of a large number of victims of different nationalities and the activation of the corresponding Civil Protection plans in an environment of radiological contamination. More than 600 Spanish emergency technicians were deployed and also several teams from eight european countries.

The REMER amateur radio teams were deployed in the area of the exercise in order to operate
a VHF coordination network and to provide technical support to the European Union Command Post. The network covered several strategic points inside the area of operations, such as the accident site, the Command Post and the vehicle rendezvous point.

The Spanish General Director of Civil Protection and Emergencies (Ministry of Interior) acknowledged the participation of REMER during an official ceremony four days after the exercise, where she acknowledged the important support provided by the amateur radio operators.

Further information on this event ( in Spanish ) with pictures can be found here.

 

In the second exercise on June 27th, the amateur radio group "GRT" (Grupo de Radio Transpirenaico), bringing together Radio Amateurs from Spain, France and Andorra, performed an emergency communications exercise to demonstrate a network spanning the Pyrenees without using any existing infrastructure. During the exercise, a chain of more than 60 amateur radio stations was established from the eastern to the western Pyrenees, alternating radio links between France and Spain in the amateur radio bands.

This chain of VHF radio links was used to transport messages from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, and from there back to the east using HF in a single hop. The stations were placed in strategic areas such as Figueres, Perpignan, Puigcerda, Seo de Urgell, Valley of Aran, Andorra, Toulouse, Orio, Castro Urdiales, Lleida, Pobla de Segur and Tremp, establishing a communications chain and showing that amateur radio is a very powerful alternative emergency communications asset for the Authorities.

Two important checkpoints were deployed in the Montsec d'Ares Peak, controlling the eastern Pyrenees (northeastern Spain and France), and in the Goramendi Peak, controlling the western Pyrenees.

All the messages were also transferred to a digital network based on the Internet.

Thanks to Ismael, EA4FSI for the information on these events and congratulations to all the Radio Amateurs involved in Spain, France and Andorra.