As Hurricane Ian tracked toward Tampa, Fla., in late September, Sheriff’s Tactical Amateur Radio Communications (STARC), W4HSO, prepared for activation. Tony DeAngelo, ARRL Member, N2MFT, said STARC was activated on Monday, September 26, and continued operations through Thursday, September 29, 2022.
STARC has amateur radio equipment at five of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) locations, as well as a Homeland Security Office. “It’s a great working arrangement with all the equipment that’s provided to us,” DeAngelo said. “Our volunteers occupied these locations and the others worked from home.”
During the 4-day activation, 16 STARC volunteers worked around the clock to relay help and assistance information through the Sheriff’s Office using WebEOC, a management information system web-based emergencies.
DeAngelo emphasized that STARC is not a club, but a service organization. STARC volunteers must undergo a thorough background investigation, including fingerprinting by the HCSO. STARC volunteers are civilians and employees of various government agencies in Hillsborough County, Verizon, Tampa Electric, St. Joseph’s Hospital, the Tampa Police Department, and other public and private agencies. In the event of a disaster, radio operators provide communications between participating agencies if normal means of communication are lost.
DeAngelo is a retired police officer and has been a licensed amateur radio operator for 30 years. It will continue to monitor weather information in case another activation is needed.