June 7, 2011
Amateur Radio Operators Enjoy Serving the Public
Cited for service - RACES Radio Officer John Darling, K2QQY, congratulates Alternate Radio Officer Tim DeMarais KC2SKG, as he presents the 2011 RACES Service Award. Looking on is Emergency Management Director Patricia Egan.
Past honorees still active - All of the members of the Oswego County Emergency Communicators/Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES) who received Service Awards for excellence are still active in the group. Seated from left are Brien Mathews, KA2AON, who received the first Service Award in 2007, and Radio Officer John Darling, K2QQY, who received the Director's Award for Excellence from County Emergency Management Office Director Patricia Egan in 2010. In back from left are Robert LaMay, WA2AFF, 2009; Mark Lewis, KC2JNI, 2008; Tim DeMarais, KC2SKG, 2011; John Driscoll, N2MKH, 2009; and Mark Chamberlin, WB2PKO, 2010.
Fulton - When they're watching the weather or providing backup communications during emergencies, ham radio operators are having a good time as well as serving the public.
The members of the Oswego Emergency Communicators/RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) have turned a hobby into a very valuable community service, said Patricia Egan, Director of the Oswego County Emergency Management Office.
"You are such an integral part of emergency planning and response for Oswego County," Egan told the group during an Appreciation Night hosted by the Emergency Management Office. "We couldn't do many of the things we do without your help."
The 30-plus members of the all-volunteer service provide site-to-site amateur radio communications during drills, exercises, and emergencies for the Emergency Management Office, the Oswego County Local Emergency Planning Committee, and the Oswego County Local Human Needs Committee - and are ready to provide them during a widespread disaster.
During severe weather, the communicators are severe weather spotters, radioing storm reports to the National Weather Service Buffalo Forecast Office through the Skywarn' program to help pinpoint storm locations so the NWS can issue accurate warnings. In their spare time, the group provides communications during CROP Walks, parades, and similar events.
"You are dedicated to the health and safety of the people of Oswego County," Egan told the group. She thanked Radio Officer John Darling, K2QQY, for his leadership and cooperation, as well as SKYWARN' Coordinator Judy LaMay, KC2SUM, who leads the radio operators in collecting the observations for the NWS.
Egan presented the 2011 RACES Service Award to Alternate Radio Officer Tim DeMarais, KC2SKG. "Tim joined RACES in July 2008 and has been an enthusiastic member since then," Egan said. "His involvement with many organizations has helped RACES continue to be a hands-on organization.
"When Tim was named Alternate Radio Officer last summer, he worked closely with your group, holding on-air training meetings and encouraging experimentation with high-gain antennas," Egan told the communicators. "We appreciate Tim working with Emergency Management and RACES."
Egan also noted that all of the RACES members honored with the annual service award are still active in the organization and continue to lend their skills and leadership to the county.
The first and third Sunday of the month finds the members of the Oswego County Emergency Communicators meeting on the air to practice message handling and discussing 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, such as Skywarn by the NWS and radiological by the emergency management office, are given and communication topics are discussed. This meeting is open to anyone interested in emergency communications and/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. "RACES ranks among the highest of agencies in its effort to complete the training," Egan said. "They are one of a very small group that has chosen to exceed the minimum training requirements."
Through the generosity of Constellation Energy, OCEC/RACES have a growing web site at www.oswegoraces.org, which features the projects the group is involved in. They are also linked to the Emergency Management Office page at oswegocounty.com/emo.
Constellation and Entergy Nuclear also expressed their appreciation for RACES, which provides an invaluable service for nuclear power plant emergency planning, with small gifts for the members.
Anyone interested in the group may e-mail Darling at or leave a message for him at the Emergency Management Office at 315/591-9150.
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