Poway Neighborhood Emergency Corps partners with amateur radio enthusiasts
By Emily Sorensen
The Poway Neighborhood Emergency Corps is joining forces with the Poway Amateur Radio Society to focus on providing accurate information in emergencies.
The Poway Neighborhood Emergency Corps, or PNEC, is shifting the focus of their group from overall emergency preparation to communication. “We were trying to be everything to everyone [previously], which wasn’t working,” said Brett Ames, the co-vice-chair of the PNEC Committee.
Now the group will be focusing first on finding leaders, then on developing the ability to communicate accurate information in an emergency using amateur radios.
Often in emergencies, regular means of communications such as cell phones are rendered unusable due to overloading or power outages. An amateur radio, or “ham” radio, will still be able to work, with battery backups and generators, which many serious ham radio operators own and maintain.
Using their equipment and training, hams can receive and pass on information, not only to other hams, but to emergency services like police, fire, and search and rescue.
PNEC will not be giving up on their educational meetings where they teach the community how to prepare for and survive an emergency, but will be putting emergency communication as the group’s main focus.
The group is also searching for four area coordinators who will oversee between six to eight neighborhoods in Poway. “We’re looking for reliable and dependable people,” said Ames, who added that area coordinators who are not ham certified would be matched up with someone who is in order to make sure that all areas of Poway will have access to ham radio transmissions in an emergency. Ideally, the area coordinators would eventually get their ham radio license if they didn’t already have one. “Our goal is to have all eight area coordinators ham operable,” said Ames.
Mike Binder, of the Poway Amateur Radio Society, explained the importance of hams during an emergency. “Hams are ready to go [in an emergency] because we use our radios almost every day,” said Binder. “Ham radio never fails [in an emergency], if properly maintained.”
Ham radio operators can coordinate with local law enforcement and emergency services during an emergency, getting information to those in charge, and passing on accurate information to the public, who can be left without a way to contact anyone.
Having hams working in the Poway Neighborhood Emergency Corps means it will be easier to spread information between area and neighborhood coordinators. “The goal is to listen and get accurate information to the neighborhoods,” said Binder.
In addition to working with the Poway Amateur Radio Society, Ames said the PNEC was also coordinating with the city and with the fire department. “We’re getting legitimate,” said Ames.
The next PNEC meeting will be held in January. Anyone interested in finding out more about the PNEC or becoming an area or neighborhood coordinator can visit powaynec.com.
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