Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Amateur Radio Operators Thrive

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Amateur Radio Operators Thrive When All Else Fails

“We don’t do much until something goes really wrong.”
That’s how Donald Shurtleff describes the role of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, a group of licensed amateur radio operators who volunteer their time and equipment to plan for and respond to disasters in Oregon. 
In an emergency, public safety responders need to prepare for the failure of communication devices and systems, including loss of internet connections, email and cell service. Amateur radio technology may not have the sophistication of most modern public safety communications devices, but they offer more reliability because they are less dependent on power grids and wireless networks, both of which can fail in a disaster.
“Public safety communication has become very sophisticated but also very complicated,” Shurtleff said. “That’s a good thing, but it’s also risky. When the ‘Big One’ hits, all that technology could stop working. That’s where we come in.”
ARES volunteers undergo emergency training provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency so that they can operate seamlessly in the Incident Command System structure that is used by emergency response agencies across the country.
Deschutes County Emergency Manager Sgt. Nathan Garibay said the group provides a valuable service. “Our auxiliary communications volunteers provide countless hours of time to our local community,” Garibay said. “They epitomize the auxiliary communications motto of ‘when all else fails.’”


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