This weekend, volunteer amateur radio operators throughout Oregon will be practicing their ability to maintain communications among state, county and city Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs). The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is comprised of a group of citizen volunteers who provide radio commutation between emergency centers “when all else fails.”

This practice drill, scheduled for Saturday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., is one of the largest ever organized by Oregon ARES. The objective is to establish radio communications with dozens of locations throughout the state.

Locations will include EOCs, COOP (Continuity of Operations) field centers, Citizen Emergency Response Teams, Red Cross teams, fire departments and hospitals throughout Oregon. Contacts will be made using UHF/VHF radio frequencies and HF radio frequencies (over the horizon) with voice as well as digital modes of communication.

One of the largest COOP field operations is hosted by the Washington County ARES group at the Bald Peak State Scenic Viewpoint in Hillsboro. The county ARES group will be testing several stations using emergency power and field-installed antennas. Alongside the ARES operations will be displays of equipment from other emergency service agencies, including the Washington County Emergency Communications trailer, Intel’s Mobile Emergency Operation Center and Mountain Wave Search & Rescue mobile communications trailer.

The public is invited to view the operations, tour the trailers and talk to radio operators as they communicate without using traditional cell phone, Internet or land-line infrastructure.

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