Waukesha County first responders plan for worst-case scenario disasters

WAUKESHA COUNTY -- Once a year, a state run military exercise takes place to help governing agencies prepare for a hypothetical worst-case scenario. This year it was held in Waukesha County, and for local first responders it was all hands on deck.

Here's the scenario: Emergency officials are in the middle of a late spring blizzard; one that is so bad it knocks out power and communication for the entire area. The National Guard, law enforcement, and medical professionals are all called in -- as well as people like Skip Sharpe.

Skip Sharpe

"We can get the message through," said Sharpe.

Skip Sharpe

Sharpe is an amateur radio operator. If communication were to ever get knocked down, Sharpe -- and others like him -- would be the only ones able to send and receive messages until systems are restored.

"Our technology is less complicated. It's more point to point," said Sharpe.

From passing along messages of safety to relaying orders to other responders in the field.

"It's another day at the office," said Sharpe.

The amateur radio operators show that they can hang with the pros.

"If a major disaster occurred I would want to play a part," said Sharpe.

Their fun hobby is a lifesaving tool for us.

"That's why we're all here, it's part of what we do," Sharpe said.

The three-day exercise ends in Waukesha on Friday, May 3. Officials say so far the drill has been going as planned, and they're happy to see all agencies -- including the volunteer radio operators -- working hard and learning a lot.