Commissioner Stuart at Field Day, June 21, 2013
Commissioner Robert Stuart meets with Many Soto Director
of Emergency Operations for the City of Orlando, Michael Cauly
Director of Operations for the Orange County Communications
Auxiliary (OCAA), John Knot Emergency Coordinator for the OCCA,
and Bill Jennings Team Leader for College Park CERT. Commissioner
Stuart was observing the annual Field Day Event - an national program for
ham radio operators to set up in 24 hours emergency antennas and
power supplies and operate for 24 hours to simulate emergency conditions.
Emergency response team preps for hurricane season
Bill Jennings, left, and Jerry Porter test the Ham Radio Emergency Communications system at Jennings’ College Park home. (Meredith Jean Morris / June 12, 2013)
By Meredith Jean Morris, Special to the Forum
June 16, 2013
As hurricane season approaches, many people are more concerned with their safety in the event of an emergency, and the College Park Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is ready to teach others how to be prepared.
The group will offer evening classes in citizen emergency preparedness training during the summer months.
"CERT training is really big in California, and has been for a while," said Bill Jennings, who is the CERT College Park Team Leader. "After Hurricane Andrew, a lot of organizations in Orlando started being more concerned about community safety."
The first CERT class in Orlando was held in 1994, with College Park offering its first one in 1997.
"CERT gets people thinking about what they need in the event of an emergency," Jennings said. "We teach them how to do emergency medical procedures and get people ready for the paramedics. We also teach people how to be prepared for a disaster."
CERT class attendees also will learn disaster fire suppression, search and rescue operations, as well as disaster psychology and team organization, Jennings said.
"We want people to understand that they can make a difference in their community if there's an emergency," he said.
One way to make a difference is knowing how to communicate when there's an emergency. That's why the College Park CERT is part of the ham radio emergency network.
"We got a FEMA grant for ham radio equipment several years ago," said Jerry Porter, who is the CERT ham radio emergency coordinator. "But nobody was licensed to use it, so I became the first ham-trained, and I started teaching classes."
The CERT ham team is set up to communicate with emergency services in a disaster.
"We want people to know there are ways to communicate if the phone lines go down," Porter said. "We can tell people what's going on, if there's a tree down, or if people are hurt when there's an emergency."
The CERT ham net communicates with the Orange County Communications Auxiliary, relaying messages about any situations in College Park.
"People have handheld radios, and they can communicate with Bill, who then relays the messages to me at the Orlando station," Porter said.
Each Wednesday at 7 p.m., the CERT ham net tests the system to make sure they are ready in the event of a disaster.
"It's important to be ready as we get closer to hurricane season," Porter said. "We are the eyes and ears of the neighborhood in an emergency."
If an emergency is called into the communications auxiliary, it is entered into an online database to help expedite the response by emergency personnel.
" We want people to know that if there's an emergency in the community, there are people looking out for everyone's safety," Jennings said. "We have CERT people trained to respond in the neighborhood, and we have people who know how to get the message out when communication systems are down."
For details about CERT, or to sign up for summer CERT training, call Bill Jennings at 407-898-2946 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Emergency Response Team
CERT is a national organization, funded primarily by FEMA, and dedicated to training citizens to aid in times of crisis. The CERT committee sponsors and delivers following course:
CERT Ham Radio Team to offer classes
February 14, 2011
for Individuals interested in getting their Ham Radio Technicians License
On February 3, 2010 an article appeared in the Orlando Sentinel “Ham Radio: A fading hobby – until emergencies hit” Gil Chapin of the Orange County Communication Auxiliary was quoted in the article as saying, “Although the death of ham radio has been forecast many times, Chapin thinks the advent of the cell phone - which allows people to speak across long distances at low coast – has done more to tamp down the enthusiasm about ham radio than anything else. But during a natural disaster, cell phone and other communications may not work when ham radio still will.”
Ham radio operators played a major roll in communications with Haiti after the earthquake and the disaster relief headquarters in Miami. After hurricane Katrina ham radio was the only form of communications for many communities.
Locally both the Orlando and Orange County Emergency Operations Center are set up with base stations to provide communications for first responders in case a major communications failure.
Several years ago the CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Ham Radio Team was established. The CERT Ham team is responsible for staffing the ham radio base in the communications room at the Orlando Emergency Operations Center.
Manuel Soto, Emergency Manager for the City of Orlando, envisions Ham radio operators as a valuable asset after a hurricane to keep the Orlando Emergency Operations Center aware of what is happening in Orlando neighborhoods. CERT Ham radio welcomes licensed operators to their weekly Wednesday evening net, 7 PM, 146.600 MHz simplex.
Starting February 14, the team will start an eight-week class to assist anyone interested in getting their technicians license to assist in disaster communications, no Morse code required. The classes will be held at the Orlando Emergency Operations Center on Monday nights. There is no cost for the class; the manual will cost $29.99.For more information contact team leader – Jerry Porter at email@example.com, 407-299-7141.
Submitted by Bill Jennings CollegeParkCERT@aol.com, 407-898-2946
Emergency Preparedness Training for Citizens
"What to do before, during, and after a disaster!"
The two evening training course is sponsored by the College Park Community Emergency Response Team. During the first class, citizens will be trained in what they can do before a disaster to prepare themselves, their homes, and their families; and what a citizen can expect during a disaster and how a citizen can respond to the needs of their families and neighbors after a disaster. The second night of the training will be emergency first aid. The focus of the training will be on hurricanes; the course will also review tornadoes, wild fires, terrorism and chemical emergencies.