Stray Signals

Amateur radio operators provide assistance to Blaine Police Department

When Blaine’s annual Christmas tree lighting takes place on Saturday, December 7, a team of amateur radio operators will be working quietly in the background, assisting the Blaine Police Department. Equipped with portable radios, the volunteers will direct traffic, maintain a presence at closed intersections, monitor crowds and alert police officers to any medical problems or injuries.

This team of radio operators, known as the Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), consists of 26 volunteers who are trained in the use of amateur or “ham” radios. They have licenses from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate ham radios at certain bandwidths or frequencies. The FCC issues different classes of licenses, and there is a test for each class.

Managed by the Blaine Police Department, ACS volunteers provide volunteer assistance during major Blaine events such as the Fourth of July, the Christmas tree lighting and the Ragnar Relay long distance race. But their real goal is to be able to communicate with the outside world in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.

“We are providing volunteer manpower to the Blaine Police Department,” said Blaine city councilmember and ACS member Mary Lou Steward (call sign KG6BMQ). “But our real goal is that in an emergency, when everything is overwhelmed, we will be able to communicate with the state and with everybody else. Cell phones and everything else will be down in a disaster. So our ham radios will work and allow us to communicate with the outside world.”

According to ACS manager Jim Elston, ACS radio operators will communicate with Whatcom County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during an emergency. The EOC is located near the airport in Bellingham, and serves as a venue for coordinating emergency responses. “We would talk to them, initiate communications and send status reports or whatever information they require,” said Elston, whose call sign is KP2X……..READ FULL ARTICLE


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