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Nepal Quake highlights important role of Amateur Radio Operators in disasters

Monday April 27, 2015    12:56 PM

More than 300 people in 27 counties statewide participated in a radio operator exercise centered at the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, April 25. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service "QuakeEX I" exercise took place the same day a 7.8 earthquake struck off the coast of Nepal.

"Oregon is due for a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake that could be even larger than the one that struck Nepal," said Kim Lippert, Public Information Officer for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. "An earthquake of that size will cut standard forms of communication, making amateur radio operators critical."

The amateur radio event hosted by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management tested amateur radio emergency communication capabilities. More than 2000 messages were sent during the exercise. The training provided an opportunity for county and state amateur radio emergency communication units to prepare for a worst case scenario like a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a fault line that stretches from offshore British Columbia to California and is capable of producing large mega thrust earthquakes. Experts say there is a 40% chance of a large 9.0 or higher earthquake striking our state within the next 50 years.

The Amateur Radio Emergency Service "Quake EX I" exercise is part of a larger effort to prepare for "Cascadia Rising", a large regional exercise designed to simulate a scenario like a large Cascadia Quake. Becoming a licensed amateur radio operator and preparing an emergency kit with items for up to two weeks are ways you can help prepare for a major earthquake.

More information on how you can become an amateur radio operator can be found at www.arrl.org.


Photo: Jamie Baxter, Emergency Operations Coordinator for the Grand Ronde Police Dept., monitoring radio traffic in the Amateur Radio Emergency Service “QuakeEX I” exercise in a mobile unit at the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, April 25.
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