Grant: ARES Auxiliary Communications Unit

Date: September 2022
Amount: $40,000

Tropical cyclones, severe weather, and storm surge have been identified as the three most significant threats to Jacksonville, FL, which is located in Duval County. To help deal with these threats, amateur radio operators have formed Duval County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Inc. (DCARES). DCARES is a non-profit organization that promotes and provides education, engineering, scientific research, and volunteer personnel for emergency communication infrastructure and services. DCARES supports Jacksonville’s Mass Care Plan, Shelter Plan, and Emergency Communications Plan and provides amateur radio operators to any of the city’s 28 evacuation shelters, four area commands, point of distribution, emergency operations center, and communication centers. The variable nature and lack of permanent infrastructure at most locations does, however, creates obstacles to the effective deployment of amateur radio resources.

This grant will fund the purchase and outfitting of a communications trailer that will simplify and expedite the process of deploying amateur radio operators throughout Jacksonville. Equipment that DCARES will purchase includes an electrical generator, antennas, and radios. The communications trailer will provide local 2-way radio service, regional and long-range 2-way radio service, non internet email service, and local and regional non-cellular text message service.

In addition to deploying the trailer during emergencies, DCARES intends to take this trailer to various schools in the hopes of educating the next generation of ham radio operators. The trailer will also support public service events, such as 10K races and SKYWARN severe weather spotting. DCARES volunteers will perform most of the work required to complete this project. DCARES members include electrical engineers, aircraft mechanics, general contractors, software engineers, network administrators, civil engineers, electronic technicians, and project managers.

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