Grant: Communications Trailer

Grant Date: September 2021
Amount: $11,750

Amateur radio is extremely important to the Blount County and Great Smoky Mountains National Park area due to poor cell phone coverage in the half of the county. The BEARS group maintains the radio system and antennas located at Blount Memorial Hospital and reports to the hospital Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.

In 2019, the Blount Emergency Amateur Radio Service (BEARS) was given a trailer by the Smoky Mountain Amateur Radio Club. The trailer consisted of just a box on wheels with a non-working air conditioner, tires that needed to be replaced, one ceiling light, a built-in counter and two doors, along with a Honda generator with insufficient capacity. Due to the BEARS relationship with the Blount County Emergency Management Agency, the trailer is allowed to be parked in a secure area of the Blount County Emergency Communications 911 Center where it can quickly be deployed. As the County does not have a dedicated communications room for their EOC, the trailer can be moved adjacent to the building and provide an operational place for ARES® members in the event they are called upon.

The grant will fund needed repairs and to outfit the trailer with better lighting, masts for antennas, antennas, radios, plus other supplies, and equipment to make it usable for local emergency communication operations. The project is expected to add functionality and to better support the local ARES® group by allowing it to be brought to locations where needed, thus creating a mobile operations center with a safe and secure working environment ready for use. The non-emergency use of the trailer will be to offer a mobile communications facility whereby it can be brought to schools, training classes and other community functions to spark interest and allow persons interested in amateur radio to be introduced to the technology learning opportunities this hobby offers.

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