Ham operators form group to provide emergency communications
by Alan Reed
Jun 11, 2008 | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Harvey Lawrence with Communication Vehicle COM-1 used by the Tri-County ARES group.
Harvey Lawrence with Communication Vehicle COM-1 used by the Tri-County ARES group.
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Natural and manmade disasters strip areas of electricity and telephones, leaving victims and rescuers not only in the dark, but also without the ability to communicate. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) of Trigg, Lyon and Caldwell Counties has organized to provide lifesaving communications during emergencies.

The Tri-County ARES met last Thursday at Trigg County’s Rescue Building to discuss starting operations in Trigg County, recruiting and a radio and regular meeting time.

ARES leader Harvey Lawrence brought a decommissioned ambulance from Caldwell County, stripped and refitted with communication equipment to the meeting. He said that the vehicle, known as Com-1 is owned by Caldwell County, but an asset used with Lyon and now, potentially, Trigg County.

“If there is an emergency, we could lose all communications, meaning no telephone, cell phones, public radio. No communication of any kind,” said Lawrence. “Even radio stations could be off the air. ARES will set up communications for the city and county governments, and dispatch ambulances from amateur radios rigged with a generator. We have a 2,000 watt generator that can power the whole thing.”

Lawrence said that the Caldwell-owned Com-1 is patterned after a similar vehicle in Madisonville.

“In addition to our radios, we have a computer loaded with 911 software used by dispatches. We have a mapping system that can show every road in the three counties right here on our computer screen,” Lawrence said. “Our laptop goes through equipment that allows us to send and receive digital messages.”

The Caldwell County Fiscal Court pays the Com-1 vehicle’s expenses. Lawrence said that ARES radio operators contribute equipment to outfit Com-1 and conduct fundraisers. “We had one Ham (amateur radio operator) go out of business. He donated his old equipment to us, which we sold off and used the money to buy some new equipment.”

He added the ARES group has been accepted into the Caldwell County government, similar to a volunteer fire department or rescue squad.

For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.
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