Emergency Communications

Estimated read time 3 min read

Shortly after the Peconic Amateur Radio Club formed in February 1993, Chief of Communications of the Town of Southold Police Department, John Raynor K5XLI (N2RAW), approached club members and asked them if they would be interested in providing emergency communications for the Township during disasters. Since PARC was organized to be an ARRL “Service Club”, the idea of supporting our townships during an emergency was a good one. PARC’s Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) was born.

With twenty-five volunteers, ARES was officially recognized by the Southold Town Board and responsibilities for the club were placed in the Town’s Disaster Response Plan. Specifically, if an event requires local government to open relocation shelters for people in town, we are called upon to provide communications from the shelter to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) located at Police Headquarters in Peconic. To date, we have been activated for many approaching hurricanes and the “Y2K” threat.

Our ARES teams have provided mutual aide support during the 1995 Hampton’s Wildfires, the 1997 crash of TWA flight 800 and the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

In addition to working with Southold Town, we regularly assist the towns of Riverhead and Shelter Island and by mutual-aide agreement, greater Suffolk County and beyond. Each Township has an ARES organization to call upon, but in cases like the ’95 Wildfires, Flight 800 and 9/11, where operations may last for several days, we can respond to help them as well as we can call them to help us.

The Town of Southold has supported our volunteer efforts by providing state of the art VHF, UHF and HF radio equipment at the Communications Center of the EOC. Suffolk County ARES has donated computer equipment and antennas for packet operations from the Center and our members have fabricated and installed antennas at the Police Station and Recreation Center in Peconic. With our cooperation, the American Red Cross has located a radio at the Communications Center for use during joint operations. Cooperative efforts by the Town of Southold and the Incorporated Village of Greenport have given PARC cost-free tower space for our repeater and communications systems.

To exercise and keep our communications skills sharp, we provide radio support to non-profit organizations during their large-scale events. We have regularly supported the Suffolk County Special Olympics, the American Heart Association, the Association to Help Retarded People, the Southold Parent Teacher Association, the Suffolk County Bicycle Riders Association and the American Red Cross.

Officially sanctioned drills and exercises are held during the year for training purposes as well. These include the ARRL Field Day in June, the ARRL Simulated Emergency Test in the Fall and periodic County and Township drills involving our served agencies and the hospitals.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our members or someone in Leadership. Ask them about their experiences with PARC/ARES and consider joining us. (NOTE: You do not have to be a member of PARC to be an active volunteer in the ARES program.) To officially volunteer, contact our Emergency Coordinator and fill out a simple form. He/she will discuss with you your availability and operating equipment and together determine where you would be most able to report during a “call-up.”

The Southold ARES Emergency Coordinator is: Don Fisher, N2QHV. He may be contacted at (631) 765-2757 or via e-mail at n2qhv@arrl.net. We would appreciate your membership and look forward to having you with us.

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