Radio network is growing
October 27, 2022 | View PDF
Local residents in Camp Creek and Rainbow both got together last week to talk about ways to improve emergency communications.
Some of the 30 people who gathered at the Camp Creek Church on Tuesday night voiced concerns about what happened during a recent power outage. When power companies de-energized their electrical lines during a Red Flag wildfire alert, many said they were surprised to learn they’d also lost their phone service.
Craig Myers, of Springfield-based MyComm Communications, explained an outage like that can occur when a phone system is constructed to rely on amplifiers placed every half-mile to a mile apart. Area residents found theirs had shut down when the telecom’s battery backup system discharged after only about 15 minutes.
Myers, who’s been working with the non-profit McKenzie Community Communications group to help develop a local General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) network, explained some of the ways GMRS could provide an inexpensive way for people to communicate.
At Saturday’s meeting in the Upper McKenzie Community Center, people talked about how they could combine radio communications into their already developing outreach to involve people with the Firewise risk reduction programs. There were also discussions about developing training programs to familiarize people with radio protocols prior to an emergency.
The idea of creating a GMRS radio network had developed following the Holiday Farm Fire. Key to its operation would be the creation of a neighbor-to-neighbor network. As envisioned, individuals would be able to talk to their neighbors on hand-help portable radios, even if the power goes out. If there’s an emergency, they could then connect with a more powerful base station that would forward information to emergency services.
To cover a large area, like the McKenzie/Camp Creek area, solar-powered repeaters have already been placed near Cougar Reservoir and on a hilltop above Vida. A third location along Deerhorn Road is now being evaluated.
People interested in forming their own neighborhood group or learning more about how GMRS radios work can got to: mckenziecommunications.org.