Jo Daviess County is hoping to create a pool of volunteer amateur radio operators, who can play a vital role in disseminating information to the public during emergencies, said Scott Allshouse, an ARES emergency coordinator for Northwest Illinois.
Earlier this month, the Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Office announced that it had acquired and installed an amateur radio repeater in Guilford Township. The project was completed in cooperation with Jo Daviess County Emergency Management and Guilford Township officials, with a grant from the Illinois Terrorism Task Force.
The open repeater is on frequency 147.330 MHz + CTCSS 250.3Hz, and is available to licensed amateur operators in the area. By installing this repeater, the sheriff’s office has taken the first step toward increasing the number of volunteer operators in Jo Daviess County, Allshouse said.
“What we’re trying to do is build the pool of HAM radio operators in Jo Daviess County,” said Allshouse (W9SBA), who works with Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES). “Stephenson County already has quite a few amateur radio volunteers, so we’re hoping to build it up in Jo Daviess County.”
In order to encourage more volunteer operators to get involved, the sheriff’s office is hosting an Amateur Radio “Technician” level class on Saturday, Jan. 28. The free class will be taught by Ira Wiesenfeld, PE (WA5GXP) of Dallas, Texas, who has been licensed in the field for 49 years, states a sheriff’s office news release.
Following the class, participants can take an exam that will qualify them for an amateur radio license. The class and materials are free, but there is a $14 testing fee. The class will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Office Conference Room, 330 N. Bench St. in Galena.
During disasters and other emergencies, amateur radio operators can be an invaluable source of information, Allshouse said. If the sheriff’s department’s communications system goes down, volunteer operators can disseminate information to the public and to authorities, he said.
“We bring our own equipment. We don’t rely on infrastructure,” Allshouse said of operators. “We bring trained radio operators to the table.”
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer operator in Jo Daviess County, attend the class on Saturday.
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