A collaboration between two local businesses and a group of licensed local amateur radio operators recently assisted the Highland County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) to add an additional tower section to an existing tower, install a new antenna feedline and place a new dual band radio amateur radio antenna to improve communications.
Highland County EMA Director David Bushelman said the upgrades will result in better coverage to all areas of the county, even with low powered hand-held radios in hilly areas.
Highland Amateur Radio Association Information Officer John Levo advised that too often natural disasters and/or emergencies render cell, telephone, broadcast and the Internet to either overloador fail due to infrastructure, equipment or other communication-related issues. In such cases, the Federal Communications Commission requests amateurs to offer their services and personal equipment to local and state governmental agencies to provide much needed communication assistance when they safely can do so.
Tom Archibald is a federally licensed amateur radio operator and serves as the county’s assistant amateur radio emergency coordinator, as well as recently being appointed to the Local Emergency Planning Committee. Archibald said the State of Ohio strongly urges local governments to reach out to the amateur radio community and develop relationships where local amateurs advanced communications and support to local agencies in the event of a local, regional or national disaster or emergency.
In some areas of Ohio these units become certified by the Amateur Radio Emergency Services network of amateur radio operators. FEMA provides amateurs with classes to become familiar with government radio operating procedures so that “hams” and government officials “are speaking the same language”.
County Emergency Coordinator Harley Mains said that once another antenna is installed prior to winter, this simple wire antenna will not only provide hams with communications directly into the suburban Columbus State Emergency Center, but it will serve as a gateway to various FEMA, military, National Weather Service and other federal agency and civilian response centers around the United States.
Besides thanking the amateurs who assisted, Bushelman said he would like to thank Barry Stratton and Bruce Davis of S & S Electrical Contractors for the tower and ground support work, amateur radio operator Chris Campton for assisting with the on-tower antenna installation, and Chad Abbott Signs for providing the truck and equipment to lift and position the new tower section and antenna to the tower top.
“This project would not have been possible without everyone donating their time, services and equipment,” Bushelman said.
Additional information about the Highland County Emergency Management Agency can be obtained by contacting Bushelman at www.highlandcountyema.com orcalling 937-393-5880.
Submitted by David Bushelman, director, Highland County EMA.