Photo above from Kumamoto Japan Earthquake Relief Fund
Emergency preparedness is back in the headlines due to the recent major earthquakes in Japan (6.5) and Ecuador (7.8). Many people have been killed or trapped beneath collapsed buildings, power outages have occurred, and hundreds of people have been left homeless. Many Californians may ask, “Can it happen here in the Bay Area?” Geologist have replied that it isn’t a question of IF, but WHEN. For more information see a previous post “Disaster Preparedness – Neighbors Helping Neighbors.”
It is just a coincidence, but the 110th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake was last Monday, August 18th. Amateur radio, often called “ham radio,” has consistently been the most reliable means of communication in emergencies when other systems of communications failed or were over worked. In Petaluma, a small group of volunteer amateur radio operators conducted a city wide drill to test their ability to communicate in the event of a disaster that creates an electric power outage. This group, also known as the Petaluma Neighborhood Ham Watch Network, tested their radios using a repeater frequency as well as five simplex frequencies to communicate with ham radio operators in the four quadrants of Petaluma: North, East, South, and West.
The major goal of this group is to: (1) provide simple conversational contact with amateur radio operators in other neighborhoods, (2) establish two-way communication with an amateur radio station located in the local government Emergency Operation Center (EOC), and (3) to provide Internet messaging service for neighbors to distant relatives. The Petaluma NHW Network conducts weekly check-ins on Tuesdays at
8:00 p.m., on 146.910 -88.5, as well as monthly face-to-face meetings to learn more about their radios.
Any local Hams who want to become involved with the Petaluma Neighborhood Ham Watch Network or seek additional information, e-mail Bill Hammerman, KI6GOO, at firstname.lastname@example.org .