Salvation Army says radio equipment donation will improve disaster response

November 22, 2018 06:47 PM

The Salvation Army Northern Division Emergency Disaster Services could soon be getting thousands of dollars worth of much-needed equipment.

Jim Daly has responded to more disasters than he can count. The retired Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant became a volunteer in 2000.

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His latest deployment was to Hurricane Harvey but he’s also responded to disasters closer to home, including flooding in Fargo.

“The river will get seven miles wide covering numerous counties,” said Daly.

As crews spread out to give aid, they can encounter problems.


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“Often after a disaster, cell towers are down, emergency power is out and communication is needed,” said Daly. “If there's no cell service, there's really no way to communicate until everybody gets back to the base.”
 
It affects efficiency and safety. Amateur radios could help.

“The ham radios are going to give us much better range,” said Daly.

If it’s approved by the St. Paul City Council, the fire department will be donating more than $18,000 worth of equipment it no longer needs.

It will help the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) expand into Minnesota and North Dakota.

“This is the first time we'll have the equipment right here for our region,” said Daly. “It’s really a big expansion of [it] and something we've been wanting to do in this division for a long time.”

It will be installed in the emergency operations center in Roseville and in trucks that bring food, flooding kits and other supplies to disaster areas.

The equipment will also outfit a 17-foot mobile command center, which will have a 50-foot antenna.

“We can set up communications and be confident we'll keep in touch with everybody who is out there,” Daly said.

The organization works hand-in-hand with the city’s emergency management team, which helps determine the resources needed after a disaster.

“This is a must-have,” said Lucy Angelis, the emergency management director. “When we have a disaster here in the city of St. Paul, what we'll do is call up our partners and say, ‘hey can you deploy your ham radio?’”

She said they rely on text messaging, landlines, e-mails and other radios for communication but redundancy is necessary.

“If all of that goes down, we still have the ham radio operators to pick up the pieces,” she said.

The Salvation Army is looking for volunteers to help operate the radios. For those that are interested, you can contact them here.

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