Red Cross Story: Amateur Radio Operators Provide Vital Communications Links Between Red Cross Shelters During Hurricane Earl

Hello to all..

Cape Cod and Islands ARES received some excellent kudos from the American Red Cross on their efforts during Hurricane Earl. Congratulaitons to Cape Cod ARES DEC, Frank O’Laughlin-WQ1O and the Cape Cod and Islands ARES group on the publicity! Below is an article on their efforts including a link from the Red Cross complete with pictures:

Story: Amateur Radio Operators Provide Vital Communications Links Between Red Cross Shelters During Hurricane Earl

This post is written by American Red Cross disaster volunteer Allen Crabtree.

Friday, September 3. 2010 – HYANNIS, MA – “K1PBO, this is W2BTA with the shelter status report from the Nantucket shelter.”

Amateur Radio Technician Wini Lord Meservey was on duty at the communications room crowded with radios and computers in the basement of the American Red Cross Cape Cod Chapter in Hyannis, MA. She returned the radio call from the amateur radio operator located at the Red Cross shelters on Nantucket Island, one of many regional shelters opened in response to Hurricane Earl.

“W2BTA, this is K1PBO. I copy you,” Meservey replied. “Go ahead with your shelter report.”

One by one, each of the stations at the Red Cross shelters checked in with the count of residents and tourists who had sought shelter from Hurricane Earl. This information, along with current weather and reports of flooding, was gathered and then passed along to the Red Cross as well as the Emergency Operations Center and the nearby military base.

“Amateur radio provides communications to support the disaster relief efforts of the American Red Cross,” said Frank O’Laughlin (WQ1O). “When all other forms of communications go out, we are still on the air to keep vital emergency links open. This is particularly important here at the Cape. We are vulnerable here on our peninsula and on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard to storms and power outages.”

O’Laughlin is the Director of the local Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES – pronounced A-Rees) and is a veteran ham radio operator and trained Red Cross volunteer with twenty years’ experience. ARES is a program of the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) that provides point to point communications between shelters, assists in recovery efforts, provides weather reports in weather disasters and sends messages where normal communications have failed or are overloaded.

“The ARRL operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the American Red Cross,” said Keith Robertory, Manager for Disaster Technology at the American Red Cross. “The hams are all volunteers and many of them are also trained Red Cross volunteers. They are our `force on the ground’ that respond when there is a disaster anywhere in the country.”

ARES has been supporting Red Cross disaster relief operations for a very long time and will celebrate its 75th anniversary this month. “We have been working with the Red Cross long before there were cell phones,” said Alan Pitts of the ARRL. “When the Internet, the cell phones and the electricity go out, they call on us, the hams, to get the job done.”

Effective disaster relief operations rely on a number of different skills and trained volunteers, and the dedicated ham radio operators of ARES play an invaluable key role in Red Cross emergency service delivery around the country, wherever disasters occur. Frank O’Laughlin and his crew of 35 committed amateur radio operators on Cape Cod expertly filled that role during Hurricane Earl, and when the next disaster strikes they are trained and ready to respond whenever called upon.

Respectfully Submitted,

Robert Macedo (KD1CY)
ARES SKYWARN Coordinator
Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator   
Home Phone #: (508) 994-1875 (After 6 PM)
Home/Data #: (508) 997-4503 (After 6 PM)
Work Phone #: 508-346-2929 (8 AM-5 PM)
Email Address:

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