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New communications center at CCMV

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J. Jacob Edel
Mercer Island Reporter

Members of the Island’s amateur radio group recently completed the installation of a new emergency communication center at the community center.

The $3,000 facility will enable communication between the community center, which is the city’s planned emergency shelter should a disaster occur, and the emergency operations center at city hall. While the communication center has only a computer, printer and a few radios, it is capable of sending e-mail messages through the air waves with an independent power source. If the Island lost power, phone service and the Internet, the two-way radios would become the main communication source for city officials.

“It’s an important link should the community center become an emergency shelter,” said Mercer Island Radio Operators Chairman Don Sandstrom. “It allows us to communicate between point A, point B and points C and D.”

The facility is composed of two desks and a 72-inch cabinet that houses power equipment, a computer and printer, and two transceivers. The desks contain two VHF/UHF radios. Roof-top antennas transmit the signals.

About eight men of the 40-member group volunteered 250 hours since September to complete the project. The volunteers were Bob Brahm, Dale Bretschneider, Tom Campbell, Bill Ellis, David Giuliani, John Livingstone, Don Sandstrom and Neil Thompson.

The group will be holding an amateur radio licensing class in October.

The city is also working to broadcast information using the high school radio station in the event of an emergency. The radio station, formerly 104.5 FM, also changed frequencies to 88.9 FM. The city has coordinated with the high school station to air emergency messages, and regular listeners may have heard recent periodic test messages.

“If a disaster happens, 88.9 FM will be a valuable tool for Mercer Island citizens to get information,” said communications coordinator Joy Johnston.

For more instructions about how to get information in an emergency, go to www.mercergov.org/emergencyinfo.

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