TimeLine and Message Information
Timeline for “The Big One”

The main quake strikes at 0440 EST on Bald Knob that overlooks the Mountain Lake Resort in Giles County VA.  This quake registered 7.7 on the Richter scale.  A number of aftershocks are continuing to be experienced with up to 6.0 in strength.  The quake center was at only at about 7 miles deep.

The Mountain Lake resort appears to be totally destroyed.  Heavy damage was recorded on the Virginia Tech campus.  This is also true of the Radford University located about 8 air miles from Tech.  Many residential areas are destroyed.

Damage has been observed at the X-Ray dam and a vertical crack has been observed on the face of this dam.  The crack is near he center of the dam and runs from the top of the dam to the waterline.

All communities within 50 miles of the epicenter of the quake have experienced heavy damage with much of the infrastructure being down.  This includes Internet, phone and power.  Local emergency managers throughout the impact area have been activating Amateur Radio resources throughout the affected area.  These EmComm resources have in turn began to contact ham radio emergency communicators across the state to enlist their services in responding to this major disaster. 

EmComm Response

Beginning at 0800 hours, there will be a HF net called on 3.947 to serve in giving out situation bulletins throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The State EOC will be activated at 0800 along with the RACES station.  They will also have their Winlink digital station up and running with the call of N4VEM. (If VDEM is activated.  If VDEM is not activated another station will be assign as a substituted to cover this function). 

Traffic handling will be up to local EmComm structures for setting up nets at the local level.  This may include voice or Winlink.  All wide area traffic should be sent via Winlink.  Stations with wide area traffic and no Winlink should send their traffic to another local station with Winlink to relay their messages to distant locations.

Winlink Use:

It appears that we have nearly 95 percent of stations using Winlink.  In order to get replies back from request sent, outgoing traffic should be sent by 1000 hours.  This will allow replies to be returned.  In your replies, send an answer to the request that you receive.  This means more than, “I acknowledge receipt of your message.”  A more meaningful reply might be.  “We have a team of 6 communicators leaving our location at 0600 hours on 01/17/2021.  We plan to serve until 01/21/2021.  Please send location that we need to report and the contact person for us to contact upon arrival.


You might send an original message, “We have received a message from our ARES leadership that communicators are needed for Montgomery 
County Virginia.  Please advise as to how many that you need and for what term of service.
( This message might also be send naming Pulaski, Carroll, Galax, Wythe, Roanoke, and Franklin counties). 


We understand that a number of the staff at your hospital are missing and you are in need of support at your facility.  Please advise as to what type and number of people are needed and what term of service will be required. 


We have 2 Search and Rescue squads in our county.  We also have a Swift Water Rescue team.
Please advise as to your needs that we may assist you.  Advise as to number of teams of 4 people, boats and boat teams.  We need an estimate on the length of time of service.


We understand from Red Cross, that you need Winlink operators that can send “Safe and Well Traffic” to out-of-area hams with Internet connections.  Advise on number needed and location needed.


At 0440 hours the earthquake occurs.

At 0800 hours an HF net is activated on 3.947 plus or minus QRM.  This net is prepared to move to 7240 SSB at such time as propagation fails on 80 meters, if needed a shift may be required to move to 60 meters.

At 0830 shelters are being setup throughout the impact area.  Search and Rescue teams are being organized to do both urban and wilderness searches.  Hams are being recruited from across the state to support communications.  National Weather Service is issuing bulletins concerning the potential flooding due to the possibility of a simulated dam failure.  (X-Ray)

At 0900 hours message exchanges are being handled by impact area hams and non-impact hams from across the state.

At 0930 after shocks are being felt across the impact area.  Some of these are as strong as 6.0.
Hams have arrived at X-Ray dam and are positioned in a safe position to observe the crack in the face of the dam.  Hams below the dam are positioning themselves above any flood level that could potentially occur.  Many of the citizens below the dam are being moved to higher ground.
Additional shelters are being opened.

At 1000 hours all outgoing traffic should have been sent from the impact area.  These hams are now waiting from replies from across the state.  Many of these replies will require a reply from impact area hams.

At 1100 hours medical staff, Search and Rescue squads, volunteer hams from 75 to 100 miles away are beginning to arrive and require a talk-in and sheltering assigned.

At 1200 hours, hams are beginning to setup and communicate with out-going Safe and Well Traffic.  These are being done, primarily at shelters and are being sent to areas of the state that would have Internet connection and could place these into the Red Cross system.

At 1300 hours hams from distant locations,
(Eastern and Northern Virginia) are beginning to arrive at the impact area.  Notice is being sent back to their home area that they have arrived safely.

Between 1300 and 1400, Messages can be sent to the home area concerning those that have departed back to home.  Time of departure should be included.

(0800 to 1400 Hours)
Hams outside of the impact area can be sending local message in attempts to gather resources for the impacted area.  When resources have been committed, traffic needs to be directed back to the impact area concerning these resources.  Questions and answers concerning these resources to the impact area need to be exchanged throughout the event.

MAKE SURE THAT ALL MESSAGE HAVE THE STATEMENT, “THIS IS A DRILL, THIS IS AN EXERCISE”.  No problem with this being placed at the top and bottom of the message.


If there is heavy traffic on you local RMS gateway and you have local traffic within simplex range, move the other station to a digital frequency and work them P2P. 

On HF consider bands that you don’t normally use such as 30 meters.  This can be a great band  during the daylight hours.  I used it a lot in areas on the gulf coast to send traffic back to Va.  I used a RMS gateway in FL.  For the sake of speed and working weak signals, secure a license for VARA.  I have a SCS modum but with VARA it is right up there with Pactor III speed. 

The Big One Update-2

                                                                               January 7, 2021

It is important to get your primary messages out by 1000 hours to allow time for replies to be prepared and sent back to you.  In disaster, communications must be two-way in nature to be of value.  An exception to this is “Situation Reports”.  It is vital that a steady flow of these reports should be addressed to VDEM at N4VEM@Winlink.org.


Many nets and exercises are setup for messaging to be “Many to one” with messages being enlisted to be sent to a single source.  When using ICS-forms such as ICS-213 we are all familiar with the use of the form for this embedded in Winlink Express forms.  There is a second form ICS213R.txt that is used when preparing a reply.  Be sure that you know how to use this second form with the ICS-213 message form for replies.  When requesting resources to assist in your effort from VDEM, go to the template “Virginia Resource Request” and use this iCS-213 form.  Be sure to include the statement, THIS IS A DRILL, THIS IS A TEST with all traffic both digital and voice.

You early traffic should be address to local stations announcing what has taken place at Mountain Lake in Virginia and placing you group in a standby mode.  This would involve a request for all stations to be monitoring for incoming request.  You know that a request for relief operators for the impact area will be forth coming due to the magnitude of this simulated disaster.  Begin to accept commitments from hams from your area that would be willing to dispatch to the impact area.  There might be an exchange of changes concerning the type equipment that volunteer would need to bring with them.  Traffic might be exchanged as to the length of commitment from these hams.  This might be 3 or up to 10 days.  These volunteers should be told to bring 72 food supplies and water.  Volunteers should also be prepared to sleep in shelters.  They should also bring masks due to Covid-19.

After 1000 hours you should expect traffic from the impact area requesting assistance.  This is where you will use the ICS213R.TXT forms to reply.

Listen on the HF frequencies for bulletins.  They may be VHF/UHF only stations.  Bring the information that you receive to these local nets to keep you entire group updated.

We only have a few ICS-205 forms to post.  Get these from http://www.w4ghs.org/PerfectStorm-forms.html .  The ICS-605 is a fillable form.  Complete the form, save it and then send it to N4DN@arrl.net.


Glen Sage, N4DN