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2009 News Releases




Wicen Tally

Date : 20 / 03 / 2009
Author : Jim Linton - VK3PC

Summer is gone and so have the bushfires

It is six weeks since the Black Saturday disaster that involved a third of Victoria claiming 210 lives, destroying more than 2000 homes, wiping out townships and killing farm animals and wildlife in its path.

WICEN (Vic) Secretary Mark Dods VK3XMU says the deployment went as well as possibly could be expected. Mark VK3XMU advises that the deployment lasted 28 days and involved 52 radio amateurs including two each from New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. One of WICEN’S designated roles under the Emergency Management Act of Victoria is to provide relief operators for other agency communications equipment. Its operators did this in a commendable fashion at a number of Incident Control Centres and a Municipality Emergency Coordination Centre. This included 12 hours shifts requiring efficient and accurate message handling despite the noise and plenty of distractions at these nerve centres of disaster response.

The failure of telephone services also saw WICEN provide vital link services using amateur radio between centres.

The rapid restoration of wireless and landline phone services by Telstra during this disaster limited the need for WICEN to provide alternative communications. The role of amateur radio to provide third party traffic at times of emergency was demonstrated when WICEN operators joined firefighters at a remote location that had limited fire service radio coverage and no mobile phone service. They provided a communication link for health and welfare reasons between firefighters and their families at home putting to good use that emergency communications capacity.

Just like the debriefing process now underway for all emergency services and response agencies – WICEN too will be looking at its performance and to identify any room for improvement.

(Jim Linton VK3PC)


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