Yakima County Volunteer Radio Operators Critical To Emergency Response

The Yakima Herald reports on the importance of amateur radio volunteers in the county.

There are parts of Yakima County — think White Pass and Chinook Pass — where cellphone service is spotty or non-existent. Ham radios have no such problems. They can operate through a system of relays with other operators or even bounce signals off the ionosphere to communicate with stations thousands of miles away.

In a major disaster, the radios would likely be one of the few ways to communicate with the outside world, as they can run on batteries or gas-powered generators.

The state’s Military Department, which oversees disaster response on the state level, notes that many agencies — including the state’s Emergency Operations Center — successfully used ARES teams for communications during last year’s Cascadia Rising earthquake and tsunami drill. State emergency officials recommended that local agencies should establish a “habitual relationship” with ARES teams — if they don’t have one already — to ensure coordination in an emergency.

In Yakima County, the team works with the Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management to prepare for emergencies, and has a radio room at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Union Gap.

Jeff Emmons, the county’s emergency management director, said the ARES group gives the county an alternate means of communicating during disasters.

Yakima’s two hospitals have amateur radio stations that can be used for emergency communication with authorities in disasters, Whitney said. And today’s radios are capable of linking computers together so they can share data in emergency situations if internet connections are not available.

 

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There is also a related article by Yakima Herald staff over at govtech.com Radio Volunteers a Key Component of Public Safety