Many people from several places, including three rural schools, participated with the operators of the San Benito County Radio Association on October 21.
Information provided by Heatherly Takeuchi, N6HKT, ARRL PIO for San Benito County and SBCARA Member
This year 15.1 million people participated in drills for Drop! Blanket! and hold on! – a record year. It was also a banner year for the San Benito County Radio Association (SBCARA).
ShakeOut is an international earthquake exercise on the third Thursday in October. For 2021, the event took place on October 21 at 10:21 a.m.
The county ham radio operators maintained a network of resources on the local repeater. This is what they would do in an emergency to inform the District Emergency Coordinator, Timothy Takeuchi / W6TST, of the personnel and equipment available for deployment.
After the 30 seconds of the “earthquake”, Takeuchi asked the ham radio operators to call with their status and how many people were with them. This year, three rural schools registered with 14 local operators.
Susan Napier-Jones / KN6FLJ, amateur radio operator and administrator of the Cienega school, spoke to 25 students and staff on the school radio.
Sara Steiner / KJ6SAS, SBCARA Board Member, called from Willow Grove School with 13 students and three staff.
Finally, Clark Stone / KK6UGA, member of SBCARA, was stationed at Panoche school with 11 students and a teacher. That makes a total of 67 people.
These three schools, along with Jefferson and Bitterwater-Tully Schools, are part of a multi-year effort to connect all rural schools in San Benito County via amateur radio.
SBCARA members have worked to equip and train interested staff and students with amateur radios so that they can call in the event of local or major disasters (events like ShakeOut are used as training). With little to no cell and internet coverage, amateur radio is the natural choice for connectivity for these rural schools. Radio stations installed in schools have batteries that allow stand-alone radios and antennas to operate for many hours without external power.
Steiner wrote grants that secured funds from the 2019 Monterey Peninsula Foundation. This effort was also funded in part by a 2021 Community Impact Grant from the Community Foundation for San Benito County.
If you would like to learn more about Emergency Communications in San Benito County and Amateur Radio, please visit http://sbcara.org.
For more information on the International ShakeOut, please visit their website at http://shakeout.org