A specially trained team from El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club (EDCARC) Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) was sworn in by CalOES (California Governor's Office of Emergency Services) as Disaster Service Workers to provide radio communications support for El Dorado County Animal Services while accompanying animal rescue personnel in evacuated areas during wildfires.
The EDCARC ARES team provided similar support during the 2021 Caldor Fire which was the largest, most destructive fire in El Dorado County’s history that decimated the town of Grizzly Flats and triggered evacuation orders that displaced over 53,000 people from their homes, many who had to flee quickly with no time to evacuate their domestic animals and livestock. At that time, only one EDCARC ARES team member had the proper Wildland and Hazards Safety training to work closer to the fire.
The EDCARC ARES team now has 10 certified and trained volunteer Amateur Radio operators to work behind the fire line. Referred to within EDCARC ARES as the "hot zone" team, and aside from passing incident command, wildland and hazard safety, and El Dorado County Disaster Service Worker training classes, each hot zone team member must be equipped with similar personal protective equipment (PPE) used by wildland firefighters. This includes National Fire Protection Association standards and CalFire approved:
- Dual certified flame resistant jackets and pants
- Fire protective wildland gloves
- Thermoplastic full brim wildfire helmets and shrouds
- Wildland heat and flame resistant goggles.
With the official and registered designation as Disaster Service Workers under the CalOES Disaster Service Worker Volunteer Program, this team now has the added protection of workers compensation benefits and limited immunity from liability to cover their work in high risk authorized disaster-related activities.
The hot zone team and the larger EDCARC ARES team is honored to serve our communities. We express our sincerest thanks to the individuals and organizations below for this opportunity:
- Lieutenant Kimberly Lusby and El Dorado County Animal Services for recognizing the value and services EDCARC ARES can provide to assist with disaster communications and for formalizing the hot zone team as Disaster Workers.
- El Dorado CalOES personnel such as Deputy Scott Bare for supporting and swearing in the hot zone team as Disaster Workers.
For their financial support, we are grateful to:
- The Cannabis Community Benefit Committee for their generous Community Promotions Grant of $1,400 to assist in the costs to prepare ARES Hot Zone members for successful deployment during an emergency. CERA recognizes the fantastic work being done by the Cannabis Community Benefit Committee and we extend our sincere appreciation for their generous support!
- The HALTER Project for covering the Wildland and Hazards Safety training costs for each hot zone team member.
- Western Fire Supply for providing product discounts on wildland PPE.
Within the EDCARC ARES team, we call out special recognition to:
- Mike Sumersille (N7MSS), as the EDCARC ARES Emergency Coordinator, for working with EDC Animal Services and CalOES, ensuring hot zone team readiness for deployment, and increasing the visibility of EDCARC ARES as a credible service group.
- Each EDCARC ARES hot zone team member for volunteering for this higher risk assignment and, where necessary, bearing the personal costs for additional PPE, handheld and mobile radio equipment for field deployment.
- EDCARC ARES members supporting the hot zone team with radio dispatch and helping EDC Animal Services in non-hot zone areas.
EDCARC relies on membership dues and funding from the Community Emergency Radio Association (CERA) as their parent organization.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and all volunteer group, CERA relies on grants, funding, and donations to cover large expenses such as setting up the radio repeater infrastructure across El Dorado County, the ARES mobile vehicle/trailer that serves as ARES base for radio communications during disaster deployment and field exercises, and the portable radio repeaters that can be quickly deployed to help extend radio communication coverage during disasters.
If you would like to help offset the costs incurred by CERA and EDCARC ARES, please consider donations to cover all or part of the expense for the following items:
- One (1) EDCARC ARES Emergency Response Vehicle ($175,000)
- Three (3) EDCARC ARES Emergency Remote Repeater Trailers ($135,000)
- Six (6) Honda 2200 Generators ($7,200 total)
- Five (5) Sets of PPE to expand the EDCARC ARES Hot Zone Team ($6,500)
Donations are tax deductible and we greatly appreciate your support!