The EmComm Training Organization (ETO) announces the date of the November Semi-annual Drill — For over 3 years, the ETO has been training amateur radio operators to be skilled with the use of digital Winlink communications. This effort stemmed from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, and the subsequent call for competent Winlink operators. To develop proficiency, weekly “Winlink Thursday” exercises have been practiced by more than 800 international operators.

The upcoming November 12, 2022 semi-annual drill is open to all participants who have or would like to build skills for digital radio messaging — such as sending attached forms or photos — essential for emergency communications for any served agency, whether local government, FEMA, or any NGO, including the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) groups and the Radio Operators of Canada (RAC) Auxiliary Communications Service. The ETO believes this common pathway approach to communications fosters the interoperability that is essential for responding to a national or regional disaster.

The organization recognizes the varied levels of skill with Winlink. Thus, simple and introductory tasks have been designed with a progression to more complicated messaging, ranging from use of Telnet, to VHF gateway messaging and finally to national “peer-to-peer” digital communication on high frequency (HF) bands without the use of the internet infrastructure. International as well as domestic participants are welcomed to join by visiting the ETO website.

More than 2,000 participants are expected. The scenario is an area-wide natural disaster affecting most communities in North America. The next few weeks of Winlink Thursday exercises will be opportune for those who wish to participate in the larger semi-annual drill. It is anticipated that all participants will be mapped if the tasks are completed appropriately, and an “honor roll” of competent participants be published on the website for those who wish to deploy and become operational.