Mercer County ham radio operators needed to assist in emergencies

Chuck Gysi

Mercer County’s amateur radio operators are needed to provide communications assistance in emergency and disaster situations.

The Mercer County Emergency Management Agency is recruiting hams to become a part of the Mercer County Amateur Radio Response Team, which will lend support to the Tri-County Medical Response Corps. The amateur radio group will assist the Mercer County Emergency Management Agency and the Mercer County Health Department.

Initial training sessions are being conducted in November that will allow amateur operators to learn about on-scene security, the Incident Command System and the National Incident Management System.

The on-scene security training for hams is being offered from 7-9 p.m. Nov. 7 at the First Street Armory, 215 S. First St., Monmouth, and from 7-9 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Mercer County Health Department, 305 NW Seventh St., Aledo. The classes will be taught by Warren County Sheriff Martin Edwards in Monmouth and Mercer County Sheriff Tom Thompson in Aledo.

The on-scene security training class provides hams with an understanding of security functions that include crowd control, basic radio operations and methods used to obtain a safe, secure environment utilizing non-law enforcement personnel during an emergency situation.

The introductory class to the Incident Command System provides a foundation for higher ICS training and describes the history, features and principles of the ICS. The class also explains the relationship between ICS and the National Incident Management System. A take-home test is given to participants on the night of the class.

Persons who do not have an amateur radio license and who are interested in becoming licensed to participate with the ham group should take the upcoming class to receive initial emergency training. Additional radio classes will be offered by Mercer County’s ham operators in order to get additional people licensed and on the air to assist local operations.

A radio system is expected to be put on the air in Mercer County in the coming year that will allow hams to remain in contact with each other using portable and mobile radios during emergency situations. Funding will be sought in order to get the relay system on the air.

Hams interested in reserving a spot at the upcoming training sessions or persons interested in training to become a licensed amateur radio operator should contact Keith Clark, KC9HDD, at 309-371-5913 or KC9HDD@ frontiernet.net, or Chuck Gysi, N2DUP, at 888-749-3200 or N2DUP@arrl.net.