Oswego County News Release
Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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April 27, 2007

Oswego County Radio Communicators Cited for Service

First Service Award – Oswego County RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services) Radio Officer John Darling, K2QQY, left, looks on as Oswego County Emergency Management Director Patricia Egan presents the county’s first RACES Service Award to Brien Mathews, KA2AON.

RACES Appreciation Night –Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee chairman Tom Bullard, left, and vice chairman Milferd Potter, right, congratulate RACES Radio Officer John Darling, K2QQY, and 2007 RACES Service Award recipient Brien Mathews. The Legislature presented a certificate of appreciation to the Oswego County Emergency Communicators.

Members of the Oswego County Emergency Communicators were recently honored by the Oswego County Legislature’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee and County Emergency Management Office staff.

Emergency Management Director Patricia Egan presented the first-ever RACES Service Award to Brien Mathews, also known as KA2AON. Mathews is Oswego County’s Skywarn Coordinator and a member of the Oswego County Emergency Communicators group since 1980.

Public Safety Committee chair Tom Bullard, District 14, and vice chairman Milferd Potter, District 2, joined Egan in congratulating Mathews and presented a certificate of appreciation to RACES Radio Officer John Darling, K2QQY.

“The emergency communicators group is made up of dedicated amateur radio operators who provide backup communications during emergency drills and exercises in Oswego County,” said Legislator Bullard. “It’s unique to have such a dedicated group of amateur radio volunteers, and it’s an excellent thing. We applaud your efforts.”

When called upon by the emergency management director during a disaster, the emergency communicators perform as Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES) operators. During hazardous weather conditions, the communicators assist the National Weather Service as spotters through the Skywarn program.

“We have one of the most active groups of amateur radio operators in the state,” Egan told the communicators at their March meeting. “Backup communications are critical during emergencies and disasters, but you go beyond that. You perform many acts of community service throughout the year. There’s none like this group across the state.”

The radio group participated in the March 7 radiological exercise for Oswego County and Entergy, which received high marks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They also have participated in every exercise hosted by the Oswego County Local Emergency Planning Committee, assisting drill controllers and participants with scenario information.

Through the Skywarn program, the Oswego County Emergency Communicators help the National Weather Service with its mission of protecting lives and property. “The safety of the populace is a concern in getting the right information and verifying what radar technology seems to be indicating,” Darling noted. “Ground truth is very helpful during and even after a severe weather event.”

“I am truly grateful for their time, especially during times of harsh winter and severe summer weather,” NWS-Buffalo Warning Coordination Meterologist Judith Levan wrote Egan in a letter Egan read to the group. “Their assistance to the National Weather Service, and to the Oswego County community, is sincerely appreciated.”

“Brien has, over the years, been a strong supporter of civil preparedness and has recruited other ham radio operators to volunteer their skills in providing communications during emergencies,” Darling said. “A ham radio gentleman, he has demonstrated his hobby to young and old alike, exposing them to a wide world of camaraderie amongst the many nations of the world. He has been a mentor and coach to new hams and has always encouraged them to try the many facets of ham radio, and especially emergency communications.”

RACES members practice year-round and participate in drills throughout Oswego County.

On the first and third Sundays of the month members meet on the air to practice message handling and discuss better ways to operate during emergencies. A monthly meeting on the third Wednesday is held at 7 p.m. at the County Building in Fulton where other training programs and communication topics are discussed. This meeting is open to anyone interested in emergency communications or ham radio.

Darling said members have been active in achieving Incident Command System (ICS) training that meets or exceeds the First Responder level. This training is part of the Homeland Security mandates to have a common knowledge among responders of how to use the guidelines to manage an emergency. OCEC/RACES have a 93 percent compliance.

Through the generosity of Constellation Energy, OCEC/RACES have a new and growing Web site at www.oswegoraces.org. The site will feature Skywarn and other projects.

The communicators are also working with the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation Service in collecting rainfall reports from various places in the county. The readings are posted on the Oswego RACES Web site and can be used by anyone concerned with surface runoff, a significant concern if doing any excavation. This is a volunteer effort in providing meaningful information to the public.

For more information on OCEC or RACES, contact the Emergency Management Office at 591-9150.

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