Exercise Hand Shake
With every passing storm, volunteers in Nova Scotia monitor and prepare for the worst so that our communities are kept safe. It started with a weather warning shared on the talk groups, social media sites, and email. This lets the volunteers know that an activation may be happening in the coming days and get ready to respond if needed. The team of volunteers charge their batteries, stock up on supplies and prepare for the worst when the storm does pass through. When activated, these volunteers support the provincial government in many ways. They provide support and updates to Environment Canada with local weather reports, and they provide communication links via email and voice transmission on the Provincial Trunk mobile system (TMR2). This team of volunteers is simply the backup to the back for communication systems in Nova Scotia.
This team of volunteers is part of a growing group of amateur radio operators that work behind the scenes during every significant weather event in Nova Scotia. This group consists of Halifax Auxiliary Telecommunications Service (HATS), Canadian Weather Amateur Radio Network (CANWARN) and the Halifax Amateur Radio Club.
This group trains at the Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency Station 50 in Hammonds Plains once a month. They participate in the provincial operations called Exercise Handshake, which Cumberland County Municipal EMO coordinates. This exercise is beneficial for new and experienced TMR2 users to familiarize themselves with TMR2 radio functionality, test radio equipment, and practice passing communications traffic in a non-emergency environment. Users with satellite phones will also have the opportunity to practice and test their equipment during the exercise.
With the advancement in communication technologies and digital applications, Amateur radio has become a critical tool in Nova Scotia, and the hobby is only getting more exciting for its volunteers. Since the beginning of radio communications, there have never been this many registered amateur radio operators in Canada. With each passing year, more and more people are getting involved, and currently, there are over 70,000 licensed ham operators in Canada.
The next time a storm rolls through our community, know that people like amateur operator VE1 WD, Fraser MacDougall at Station 50 are helping keep our community safe right a crossed Canada.