Over the course of a single day, ARES® Los Angeles (ARES LAX) Northwest District operators on July 8 pivoted from a plane crash mass-casualty drill to a real major fire response. With the area suffering under record 108° heat, the ARRL Los Angeles Section’s ARES Northwest District Emergency Coordinator Roozy Moabery, W1EH, had no idea that an actual emergency would erupt just 6 hours after his ARES team finished a full-scale mass casualty drill that morning.
The mass casualty drill scenario involved numerous hospitals and agencies responding to a private plane crash at a busy freeway junction in the Encino area. ARES LAX-Northwest members deployed to their assigned hospitals by 7 AM for the drill, prepared to handle back-up communication on hospital utilization and bed availability. Moabery said the drill provided an excellent example of how ARES interfaces with other disaster-focused Amateur Radio organizations.
The real emergency happened about 12 hours later — an explosion and fire at a City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power 230-kV receiving station in the San Fernando Valley’s Northridge area. While firefighters fought flames, electric power was cut for up to 11 hours to some 147,000 homes and businesses, already suffering from the searing heat.