Emergency Management Radio Operators earn Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Volunteer Group Award for 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Emergency Services Coordinating Agency (ESCA) Radio Operators with the
Seattle Multiple Sclerosis Society Bike MS Volunteer Group of the Year Award for 2013.
Photo by Randy Schaffer.

The Seattle Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society has awarded “Volunteer Group of the Year for 2013” to the Emergency Services Coordinating Agency’s (ESCA) radio operators for providing radio communications support to MS charity bikes rides and walks since 1995.

Over the September 7th and 8th weekend, approximately thirty ESCA radio operators or “hams” established a radio communications network used to monitor the progress of about 2,000 cyclists riding in the society’s annual 2-day, 150 mile charity bike ride. Starting at the Skagit County fairgrounds, the cyclists followed a winding, sometimes hilly route through Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties with return to the fairgrounds.

Mechanical failures, exhausted riders and occasional first aid situations kept the radio frequencies busy over the long days as the cyclists traveled scenic routes north to Anacortes and south to Oak Harbor on day one and along coastal roads between Bellingham Bay an Padilla Bay on day two.

The annual Award was presented to the “hams” at a Saturday night MS Ride rally where high contribution cycling teams, corporate sponsors and many other volunteers were recognized.

The ham radio coverage is vital since cellular phone signals aren’t always adequate on some of the rural back roads. Radio operators in support vehicles are often first on scene of bike mishaps or the more common flat tire or broken spokes. 

“Rescued” cyclists are transported back to the fairground “Start/Finish” line while the Ride officials are informed by radio of the progress of the cyclists as they pedal their way to making good on donation pledges.

“Supporting the MS Society with radio communications provides a great benefit, said Radio Program Manager, Dan Good.  “Volunteering for the MS society is great training for our emergency radio operators responsible for establishing post-disaster communications among city Emergency Operations Centers, hospitals, and 911 dispatch centers.  Disasters such as an earthquake or severe winter storm routinely take out telephone service and often overwhelm public safety radio.”

The Emergency Services Coordinating Agency is a local government emergency management organization created by the cities of Brier, Edmonds, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, Woodinville, and the Town of Woodway.

Anyone interested in becoming a licensed amateur band radio operator trained to send emergency radio traffic in a post-disaster environment should contact Dan Good at 425-776-3722.


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