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Messages in an emergency

Bob Longmore, municipal amateur radio co-ordinator for the District 69 Emergency Communications Team, demonstrates some of the capabilities of their new trailer. - Auren Ruvinsky Photo
Bob Longmore, municipal amateur radio co-ordinator for the District 69 Emergency Communications Team, demonstrates some of the capabilities of their new trailer.
— image credit: Auren Ruvinsky Photo

Local governments marked National Emergency Preparedness Week (May 6-12) by introducing a new communications trailer.

Customized with countless donations and volunteer hours for just $26,000, the District 69 Emergency Communications Team can tow it to any secure location, unlock the door, turn on the battery, generator or plug it in and be relaying life saving information back and forth to the world in minutes.

With several overlapping technologies the team — comprised largely of Mid-Island Radio Association members — can speak to or exchange e-mail by radio, with the nearest emergency centre.

Municipal amateur radio co-ordinator Bob Longmore explained while they may only need to communicate with Victoria or Kamloops — with communication being one of the weak links in a large scale disaster — they are able to relay messages between local emergency services and the closest regional managers, using repeaters from anywhere in the world.

“All we are is a conduit, in the case of a disaster we’d send messages on to the government,” Longmore said, explaining they would work closely with a separate emergency command centre.

The trailer, aside from comfort and portability, replaces the team’s tent. The trailer has a built in system to quickly raise an antenna and between the batteries and generator can power itself for many days.

With a central place to work with the special equipment, the team now needs more volunteers interested in learning how to help provide that crucial link in the event of a major disaster that experts say is not a question of if, but when.

For more on emergency preparation in general check the local municipal websites at www.parksville.ca, under the “quicklinks” on the right, www.qualicumbeach.com, www.rdn.bc.ca and the national site at www.getprepared.gc.ca.

For more information, or to join the communication team check www.mira-orca.ca or e-mail Longmore at va7za@shaw.ca.

 

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