Waldo County, Maine, is implementing the nation’s first county-wide emergency AM radio station with the help of radio amateurs.
“We realized that the last option [in emergencies] most people have for getting information is by broadcast radio,” said Waldo County Emergency Management Agency Director Dale Rowley, KC1LKI. He recalled an ice storm a few years ago that took down the power grid for a week. “We established an emergency shelter, but could not get the word to residents that the shelter was open. They couldn’t watch TV, and their smartphone batteries were dead,” he said.
Rowley’s agency learned about emergency radio advisory stations and determined that they could be a solution. The RadioSAFE Wide Area Emergency Broadcast System is by Information Station Specialists, which has provided a similar station for Dayton Hamvention visitors. The company developed a compact, center-loaded whip antenna with a small ground plane that will cover the mostly rural coastal county.
Brit Rothrock, AB1KI, and Robert Hoey, W1EBA, with the Waldo County Emergency Management Agency are handling system planning and will install the new service at the county’s tower site. The 530 kHz channel is designated exclusively for Travelers’ Information Station (TIS) services. — Thanks to Information Station Specialists
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