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New emergency communications hub installed



The Redwood Coast Seniors facility in Fort Bragg now has both an amateur radio station and an amateur radio repeater covering the North Coast Area. It already hosts MCN’s community WiFi and a KZYX satellite studio. The advantage of amateur radio is that it works even when the phone, cell service, and internet are down. These radios link to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the sheriff’s department in Ukiah, and since the Senior Center has its generator, this amateur radio communications facility can operate when power, phone, and internet are unavailable.


The most recent addition is the repeater station, previously housed in a private residence. Jonathan Peakall and Dennis Kelly, long-time amateur radio licensees, and John Skinner from the Senior Center installed the equipment and the antenna last month. “This is a great location for the repeater, and we are pleased that the Senior Center can host it for the community,” says Peakall.


In the fall of 2017, when the Ukiah Valley had its devastating fires, the communications facility at Laughlin Peak was destroyed twice. There was no phone, cell service, or internet for two days, and only limited to fire and police radio in the central part of the county. Amateur radio operators provided communications during that emergency. Since coastal Mendocino County can be cut off in case of earthquake, fire, flood, or tsunami, it is essential that we can communicate with the outside world. The Fort Bragg Senior Center is a part of that communication.


Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) requires an FCC license, and there are hundreds of licensed operators in the county. License classes and testing take place at least annually. For more information on licensing, go to the Mendocino County Amateur Radio Communications Service (McArcs) website www.mcarcs.org.


For more information about the Senior Center, contact Jill Rexrode, Executive Director, at 707 964 0443, www.rcscenter.org. Donations to support this or other center activities are gratefully accepted. For more information about amateur radio, contact Michael Carroll, 707 964 6317 or see the McArcs website at www.mcarcs.org.



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