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Oregon OEM: We Need More Hams!

11/05/2013

[Updated 11-05-2013 2030 UTC] Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that when Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management (W7OEM) coordinated the largest-ever test of the state’s emergency communications network, it found that some regions need more radio amateurs.

“While the exercise was considered a success, it also shed light on one of the system’s vulnerabilities — a lack of qualified Amateur Radio operators east of the Cascades,” the OPB story by David Nogueras said.

The exercise scenario over the November 2-3 weekend was a crippling cyber attack on the power grid that takes out telephone and Internet access. In such situations, emergency planners “have identified Amateur Radio as the fallback method of communication,” the OPB story said.

The broadcast story pointed out that while Oregon has some 700 ARES volunteers, most are in Western Oregon. Morrow, Grant, and Jefferson counties have no volunteers, however, and other counties have just one. “If we don’t have active amateurs who know what to do in that kind of a situation and are part of the county organization, then we may not have any communications in those counties, and that’s a real concern,” Fred Molesworth, AF7S, with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, told Oregon Public Radio.

He asked would-be volunteers to contact the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

Oregon ARRL Section Emergency Coordinator Vince Van Der Hyde, K7VV, says Oregon has ARES/RACES teams in about 25 of the state’s 36 counties, and is trying to build groups in the counties with very low amateur populations. He says local radio clubs are natural places to look. “But, we are beginning to think that we should look more and more at those who are already involved in disaster related work and then recruit them into Amateur Radio,” he added, such as CERT teams for example.”  

Van Der Hyde says ARES/RACES also sponsors a Hamfair flea market each October, and this year, for the first time, it was expanded into a disaster preparedness fair, with a series of seminars on both amateur and non-amateur disaster-related training, operations and equipment. “It appears to have gone well, and we’ll expand that program in October 2014,” Van Der Hyde said.

“We’re also pushing an individual training program for operators and a county unit certification program for each county ARES/RACES group,” Van Der Hyde added. “All of which will take years to accomplish!”



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