The idea is simple as it relates to our rural Northern California County between Redding and Eureka, Calforina. Lets say you live in a typical unincorporated Trinity County community that is not blessed with even access to a cell phone tower. The cellular telephone systems will not likely be working in the types of disasters this plan is being devised for.
This is the FIRST DRAFT IN-PROGRESS WORKING DOCUMENT...NOT A FINISHED PLAN!!!!
During times of Emergency like fire, severe weather emergencies, extended power outages, flooding, earthquake, Terrorist attack on power/communications infrustructure, etc. regular communications may be interupted or need to be supplimented.. This plan is being developed to serve Trinity County communities that may wish to adopt the plan when the plan is more fully developed and functional.
The idea is pretty simple. Use Cheap simple battery operated radios to communicate within a community, by developing a list of specifically monitored channels with specific functions. Information from using these radios locally is relayed by amateur radio, public safety radio or other means to Official Trinity County Emergency Operatios Centers, Incident Command Centers or wherever is appropriate.
Obviously, some messages will be delivered Locally, and Help will come Locally, as most of these communities are isolated, but along a state highway usually.
Wherever there is a fairly large amount of people living, there often is established a Volunteer Fire Department. In Trinity County there are presently 17 of them. They are full of dedicated folks trying to meet current California training, certification and equipment standards. They are also trying to provide certified personal protection and professional fire fighting equipment to maintain their ability to fight fires and provide emergency medical response and care.
The operation of this system may be monitored and information relayed to local VFD officials. They may have working radios that are capable of contacting the County Radio System, should it have power to function. Currently back up emergency power is extremely limited in base or repeater locations in the county.
Amateur Radio Repeater Systems do presently have solar power for limited low power mountaintop locations. They are subject to deteriorated operation when 24" or more snow and ice are on the solar panels. There is no opportunity to maintain these repeater stations during extreme winter conditions. Long periods of low sunlight also means limited use. The group is currently trying to fund more solar panels, and and more efficient radio and contorl systems that would mean longer battery life.
These Volunteer Fire Organizations are also usually the center of these communities. The folks literally sell cupcakes to finance equipment, repairs and the like, with some help given from the County of Trinity distributing extremely limited State provided funds. Presently, in late 2005 the County of Trinity can hardly keep their public safety and public works radio system working.
The reality is that if disaster comes soon, we are not prepared with long-term emergency communications. If it is a wide-spread county, state or national we are clearly on our own, and not well prepared to communicate within Trinity County. The TCARES group and the author of this page have been wrestling with this problem for years... doing independent planning and trying to maintain emergency radio stations in transit boxes,etc.
Eventually parts of a plan will appear on this page. Other areas are working on similar planning. A few have contacted WB6FZH via this web page and he has posted their websites as availiable.
In 2006, a BLOG or FORUM will be associated with this project, and an expanded list of internet web page listing to similar projects. Search Engines can be used to find more information. WEBSITES have been posted on this webpage to help others find more information to serve their needs.
While parts of this plan have been in use to limited extents for years, so it could hardly be called a totally original or complete plan and is not offered as such. Just something that might spur on thinking about this important issue.
Community Radio Plan Diagram- diagram from emcomus
If you are interested in Amateur Radio, you are invited to attend a meeting of the Trinity County Amateur Radio Club where you will find hundreds of years of experience in radio communicatons waiting to further your personal interest in Ham Radio and Public Service or Check out the TCARC Website with it's links to licensing and emergency communications information.
Initial Thoughts- July, 1999- The author returned for full-time residency to Trinity County califoria. Visit TrinityCam INFOsite- for information about our area, and come vacation with us! Notes from earlier emergency communications activities are are compiled and the concept of helping various isolated areas communicate within, and relay to other areas for mutual aid and communications networking is considered for this area.
First Draft in Progress- 02/15/03- This project will result in the opportunity to have extra communications in place for Trinity County residents that wish to participate. As other plans surface, various features and procedures that are superior to this plan will be integrated into this modest effort. NOTE- This is a working document, and not complete, so it has NOT been submitted or approved by the Trinity County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, TC Fire Chiefs Association, TC OES, TCSO or any other organization. - Greg Greenwood, WB6FZH- Lead project technician.
Update: 9/6/03- John Warren, KG6HXW, of Coffee Creek, and Greg Greenwood,WB6FZH, have been testing various communications paths on various frequencies, and making notes to further the plans for the North Lake Area section of the Community Radio Project. These include FRS, MURS, 2mtr FM Simplex, 2mtr Repeater Use, etc. Some informal use of FRS is taking place in area. Some planning is taking place for Communications antenna support tower at Coffee Creek Fire Department, with some space and or coaxial cables dedicated for several communications services/frequencies. 9/6/03
Update: 2/15/2004- Greg Greenwood has been working on the TCARES packet radio plan and notes that any packet equipted 2 meter Ham Radio Station will be urged to participate in this community program, as it could tranfer valuable information into the system via "Community Radio Plan".
A word about batteries, and emergency power.- SOLAR, solar power is now at reasonable prices for small panels and chargers that are appropriate for this project. Most FRS radios us AAA batteries, you can charge a spare set of nickle cadmium rechargeable batteries in a few hours of full sunlight from a small solar charger that costs less than $25. Similar devices for AA batteries used in many other portable radios and scanners are availiable. Small solar panels that can deliver 6 watts or more of 12 battery charging power are availiable for $75 or less. Larger panels that can recharge larger batteries can cost hundreds of dollars, but can keep a deep cycle battery or a bank of batteries charged for years with proper design. Alkaline AA and AAA batteries are inexpensive when purchased at discount stores like COSTCO, SAMS, etc.
If AC power is present, use it to charge batteries or power the supplies themselves. Vehicle 12volt power systems can charge batteries through devices plugged into cigarette lighters,etc. Have these devices on hand.
There are many senarios, just keep in mind you can not communicate unless you can power the equipment. The romans used mirrors, torches and hand signals to relay messages for miles... You can learn morse code and flash a flashlight, but probably easier to think about powering emergency radios and their associated equipment now.
Update: 12/12/05- We are still working on this project, but there have been more important projects requiring our limited volunteer resources. Please send along any links to projects that communities have in place that are similar. Thanks
Update: 3/1/06- Some new interest in FRS use. National SOS Website Article on E-HAM.NET website about utiizing FRS and a standard protocol. DC Radio Dot ORG has merged with National SOS.
More info posted soon as we find it!
The basic design of this system will be to have when possible Ham Radio Operators in a community coordinating and communicating with the community to relay radio messages from the non-ham radios to Ham Radio Operators in touch with authorities than could send help when possible during emergencies.
SOME INFORMATIONAL WEBSITES/PAGES RELATING TO THIS PROJECT
CLICK HERE for some notes being used for planning purposes- Ideas, and resource for planning, ideas, etc.
RETURN TO TOP
Last Updated: March 26, 2006
E-Mail ARES Webmaster or TCARC "Webguys"
RETURN to TC ARES HOMEPAGE