Stray Signals

Volunteers provide much needed help during disasters and more – KSBW Monterey

Santa Cruz County has a very active Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, presence as well as a team of ham radio operators who are the unsung heroes during a disaster.

“Good morning, Cucamonga! This is Santa Cruz E.O.C.!”

Each week ham radio operators check the California Office of Emergency Services and network with other ham operators throughout the state. They play a pivotal role in emergencies and natural disasters through groups like the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL).

They are volunteers trained and licensed to operate radio communications. CERT training happens all over the state – including Santa Cruz County for hazards that might impact their community.

“We can talk to people and relay for the Sheriff’s department, police department, or the fire where their radios can’t. We can work with the Red Cross to communicate around the country,” said, Gary Watson, assistant district emergency coordinator of Santa Cruz County ARES.

CERT educates citizens and volunteers on disaster preparedness for during earthquakes or disasters – first responders rely on a special group of volunteers to fill gaps and help handle immediate needs.

The program also trains in basic disaster response skills.

“It’s the idea that we’re there in the neighborhood until the professional responders come and we’re trained to do the basic things to keep people safe,” said Mary Edmund, CERT auxiliary executive director.

Santa Cruz County emergency services manager Rosemary Anderson says all volunteers are essential because they are prepared, dedicated and organized.

They are an incredibly valuable resource when any kind of disaster strikes.

“But they’re also more importantly, really important to community education to the services that they offer in terms of training and classes not only to get neighborhood teams up to speed. But also individuals interested in having those skills as well”.

Training is the key-ham radio operators are constantly learning whenever they have the opportunity-and the CERT teams volunteer for other programs not just disasters.

The Santa Cruz County CERT will begin more training this fall. It’s a 22 hour course that interested volunteers can sign up for on their website:

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