You are Invited to a discussion on developing an orientation plan for Eugene EmComm. At 10:00 AM on Saturday, May 11, we will be holding a Zoom discussion on developing an orientation for EmComm members.

We currently have no organized way to share with new members our purpose, procedures, and a knowledge foundation to help them get up to speed and become fully functional participants in our activities.
The goal for this meeting is to develop an outline for a self-paced, online orientation for new members. To participate, please use the Contact form to request the Zoom link (the link is the same one we have used for other EmComm business). If you have ideas you would like to contribute but are unable to take part on May 11th, you may also use to Contact form to submit your ideas.

Volunteers Needed

We have a number of community outreach events coming up for which we need volunteers. Educating our community members is one of the most important services we can provide. In an emergency, knowledge about what to do when things fall apart can truly be a matter of life and death. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Andy Davis (KJ7JDN) directly, or by using the Contact page. Here are some of the dates where we need volunteers:

  • May 4, 2024 – Wildflower Celebration: Awbrey Park, 9am – 3pm
  • June 29, 2024 – Children’s Celebration: Willamalane Park, 9am – 3pm
  • Sept. 28, 2024 – Jerry’s Safety Day
    • Hwy 99, Eugene: (Gerry Brown Lead), 9am – 3pm
    • Olympic St., Springfield: – 9am – 3pm

Upcoming Training & Exercise Dates

  • Sept. 14, 2024 – Dry Run for City–Wide Exercise (If wanted by EmComm members): 10am – 12pm
  • Oct. 19, 2024 – Eugene City–Wide EmComm Exercise: 10am – 1300

Thia Bell

How can you help as individuals or how and when are radio teams activated? 

Several answers in a local Net included how volunteers may be self-activated until they can organize on the air, or at a gathering site, or among neighbors forming small Damage Assessment Teams (DATs).

Groups or teams that practice may have their own plans, procedures and assigned FRS/GMRS channels. For instance, the radio team of Friendly Area Neighbors (FAN) uses Ch 6, which was assigned in the Eugene EmComm/CERT neighborhood map, with an alternate channel assigned to be used if 6 is congested. FAN welcomed and went with this plan.

Its Radio Ready team further adopted an internal neighborhood plan that incorporates other channels on low power for smaller areas. People with several radios are to be monitoring the main channel(s).

But when? 

Following basic FRS emcomm procedures, FAN suggests all operators spare their batteries. We are to turn our walkie-talkies to the main neighborhood ch(s) at the top of the hour for 5 min following an event of widespread disruption of normal forms of communication. 

How do you know it’s major and not just your block affected? Ham operators can pull in information from farther away than neighbors who just have FRS radios. This is why we call our FAN campaign Radio Ready. It starts with keeping battery-powered AM/FM radios on hand, in a go kit, or wherever it will stay until needed. NOAA weather radios usually have this reception, as do other small transistor or windup, crank radios. We may be able to access radios in our vehicles as well. Some handheld ham radios also easily tune to FM radio stations. 

Any activating neighbor who gets on the air at the top of the hour may assume FRS Net Control until another takes over. Announcements may come first, about when to listen again, such as also at the bottom of the hour, and when there may be calls for check-ins and reports. If nothing is heard, try the alternate channel, and try again over subsequent hours. Rinse and repeat. 

We understand many “untrained” people may soon deluge the FRS/GMRS channels in widespread local disasters, so practicing directed nets under a single net control operator helps us politely assume control, state who we are, about how long we will need the channel, and to be brief in real emergency communications. We expect most traffic will peter out after early users deplete their batteries, or they learn to listen more than talk. 

The important thing for any group or neighborhood is to have a plan. 

FRS/GMRS operators also may be familiar with the National SOS protocol described in the attached flier. It suggests just three minutes at the top of the hour, and other times, instead of five minutes. And whereas CB radio attempts to reserve its Ch 9 for emergency messages, FRS/GMRS attempts to reserve Ch 1 for emergency communications. 

This standard of reserving Ch 1 may necessitate a neighborhood team to monitor Ch 1 as well as any assigned neighborhood channel(s) if some members have adequate backup power. Of course, anyone can monitor FRS/GMRS at any time. Even some hams can monitor Ch 1 and the neighborhood channels without having to rely on FRS batteries that do not have very long life. It is illegal for hams to transmit on FRS/GMRS channel frequencies. ln the example on the flier, a monitoring ham could switch radios to respond to the caller on their own FRS to let the caller know their message is received and is being forwarded. They might also ask the caller to switch to another, neighborhood FRS channel for further comms and updates to free up the emergency channel. 

Not all ham radios can hear FRS channels. But hams usually have longer battery power and backup supplies, whereas FRS and handheld GMRS batteries can deplete in several hours, especially if they are transmitting a lot.

(I have left an inexpensive ham handheld (HT) radio turned on, monitoring or scanning overnight for four days on its extended battery pack before getting the low battery alert. Having more charged packs on hand to switch out limits anxiety.) 

So even if you have not seen a need to acquire FRS or GMRS radios yet, you or another ham might still be able to monitor their channels and alert another neighborhood ham who could try to respond with their FRS or relay to others. If not blocked by the manufacturer, FRS/GMRS channel frequencies can be programmed via chirp or manually

Eugene Emcomm, CERT, Portland NET and Seattle Communication Hubs, have useful training videos on ways to activate and use radio teams. The Neighborhood Emergency Radio Communications Response Guide provides instructions and tools with the Eugene neighborhood channel map. 

The challenge of convincing more neighbors, and hams, to acquire FRS or GMRS radios, battery supplies, and ways to charge them, seems the Big One to overcome. 

Radio Relay International

by Gerry Brown, KK7GAB

At 1000 hrs on Saturday January 18, 2024, the Eugene Emcomm self-activated. Eugene
EmComm is a group of Ham Operators that provides Emergency Communications for the city of
Eugene and surrounding area. During the five day period extending to Wednesday night at
2000 hrs, the K7TBL repeater at 146.88 MHz was used to communicate with Hams needing
assistance in the lower Willamette Valley.
Assistance was given to those that wanted to convey “wellness” messages to family members;
assistance to an “out of towner” looking for propane for their RV; passed along condition
reports; and established communications with the cities of Veneta, Cottage Grove, Pleasant
Ridge and Springfield.