The Communications Group is the group of volunteers responsible for various communications assignments of the organization. The 40 plus members, all Amateur Radio Operators (Hams), are trained and available to provide for the needs of Emergency Management. The overall mission is to provide communications support for County Government functions in the event of an emergency or other situation that taxes existing communications systems beyond their capability.
The Group supports the four functions of Emergency Management: Mitigation (planning for any communications disruption), Preparedness (exercises and tests on a regular basis), Response (responding to emergencies and threats of emergency), Recovery (critiques after an activity). Additionally, the group is responsible for:
— Providing a plan to support a communications disruption within the County.
— Providing trained communicators with equipment to supplement or replace existing systems.
— Provide an “Emergency Communications Center (ECC)” within the “Emergency Operations Center (EOC)”.
— Provide a “Mobile Operations Center (MCU)”. See more about the MCU here
— Provide necessary communications equipment to the other groups of the organization (Staff, Field Support Group, HAZMAT Team, Warning Group, EOC Team). — Training of First Responders and support of the State SAFE-T System in the County.
The group members donate about 2,400 man-hours per year to EMA functions. The 80 to 90 yearly functions include:
— Stormnet (formerly SKYWARN) observations during severe weather.
— Weekly tests (Sunday at 8:10 PM on 146.820 MHz.).
— Trained responders for Damage Assessment after an emergency.
— River/Creek water level monitoring as needed.
— Participant safety & coordination activities for walks, runs and other local events.
— Trained assistance — Organized resources for evacuations and searches.
— Participation in County exercises to provide all levels of communications.
— Support for the County Warning function.
Traditionally Amateur Radio Operators have been viewed as the group who could “get a message through” when other conventional sources of communications fail (“When All Else Fails – Amateur Radio”). Our members volunteer their time and equipment to be ready to provide local or across the country communications needs. They also have developed the skills needed to organize an activity or provide the communications link needed to tie together otherwise non-compatible communications networks.
Most of the communications activities of the group will be heard on the Amateur Radio repeaters located in the County. Listen to 146.820 MHz., 147.090 MHz., or 443.350 MHz. to hear what is going on. The 146.820 frequency is particularly valuable during severe weather as the network for the Storm net program. This network tracks all severe weather in our County and feeds the observer reports to the Warning Division.
Licensed Communications frequencies include 453.8250 and 453.4500 MHz. among others