September 2014 Issue  
 Publisher:  Information Station Specialists
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Is this Not 'If ' but 'When?'
Possible Ebola, ISIS Crises Preparedness to Forefront
Ebola Virus
WASHINGTON, DC:  Public health preparedness and emergency management officials are both on alert at this writing, due to dual disaster potentials. On September 24, President Barak Obama stated that the Ebola (EVS) in West Africa is, in fact, "a growing threat to regional and global security." Then on Tuesday September 30, a patient with Ebola symptoms was identified at a Dallas area hospital. And in light of the CDC's recent advisories to US hospitals and funeral homes, health officials are understandably on notice.
Bob Cohen, Maine Township, IL
Robert Cohen, Director
Maine Township Citizen Corps
Many of the hundreds of US communities whose hospitals and safety agencies operate Information Radio Stations report to The Source that they are prepared to utilize the resource immediately. One Midwest hospital told The Source that their Information Station will be used to broadcast critical information to arriving patients while they are mobile, which they may require in order to safely enter and utilize the facility without endangering others.

Robert Cohen in Chicago area’s Maine Township submits, "For something like Ebola, we are prepared to work with our local hospital to help disseminate information [via radio] in regard to people coming to the hospital for care. This may involve patient precautions, an alternate location to do initial check-in, etc. If we were to open a Point of Dispensing location, information would be put forth to residents telling them the locations, what forms may be needed and all of the parameters. We would explain what to expect upon arrival at our POD." Maine Township’s Medical Reserve Corps recently was the feature of a story in the National Association of County & City Health Officials' Stories from the Field, online, in an article entitled "Local Radio Station Yields High Results."

A number of health departments, as well as private and Veterans Administration hospitals, Medical Reserve Corps and Regional Advisory Councils in the US operate information stations, many for just such a scenario. Those surveyed by The Source report they are readying the stations and the broadcasts to go on the air.

The President’s words follow closely on the heels of a joint bulletin from DHS/FBI on August 22, advising law enforcement agencies to be “alert and aware” concerning militants from the Islamic State of Iraq/Syria who may be in the United States.

In the event of a terror incident, Maine Township plans to broadcast "information regarding the closing of any schools or government offices and when they may open again … giving information to parents regarding a building lock-down and how to pick-up their children once police deem it is safe to do so."

Public health and safety officials universally express that they appreciate the FCC making clarifications in the content rules in 2013 for these radio stations – so that when the public is threatened with imminent danger, the stations may be used to broadcast information to mitigate the threat.
King Firefighters, 2014
The King Fire burned more than 97,099 acres, according to public info officers.
(Photo: National Wildfire Coordinating Group)
Fleeing the Flames
Radio Routes Tahoe Area Residents away from Massive Fire
TAHOE CITY, CA: The massive King Fire has scorched almost 100,000 acres and destroyed dozens of homes and structures, roiling across California’s El Dorado and Tahoe National Forests for the last two weeks. Chris Stulik, assistant to North Tahoe Fire Protection District’s PIO Dave Zaksi writes, "Suffice it to say our three RadioSTAT portable transmitters have been broadcasting … and we have been changing up the messages regularly." The portable radio stations, deployed by CERT Teams, broadcast messages intended for local residents and visitors who need critical fire safety information while they are mobile.
King Fire Zone, Google Map, 2014
King Fire Zone, 9/19/2014, 5:30 PM
(Photo: US Geological Survey, Geomac Wildland Support)
Adds Stulik, "We have been using our portable RadioSTAT transmitters … for disseminating vital information to our residents and visitors." The broadcast messages are used to tell motorists which roads may be used for efficient evacuation and which are closed and/or dangerous due to the fire. Ironically, the Department also tells motorists when there is fire but no evacuations have been ordered, which is the case in the North Tahoe District. "We had a lot of panic going on and misinformation," states Stulik, "and from the smoke and the glow in the sun, it looks like Armageddon.”

"We also used [the RadioSTATs] to let people know that the 'Ironman' event at Tahoe was canceled due to heavy smoke.” 2800 participants were in town to swim, run and bike – plus all the attendees and workers. The cancelation opened local highways that would have been blocked for the event, in case they would be required for evacuation.
North Tahoe, CA, trains on Radio<em>STAT</em>.
North  Tahoe Fire first acquired a RadioSTAT station in 2010, at which time,
the above training photo was taken. In 2012, they acquired 2 more stations.
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Information Radio Stations is a generic term synonymous with Travelers Information Stations (TIS), Highway Advisory Radio Stations (HAR) / Highway Information Systems & Low Power Radio Stations (LPR). Operation of the stations is governed by FCC Part 90.242 Rules. A FCC license is required. Information Radio Stations may be fixed or portable. Subcomponents may include transmitter, antenna and ground system, digital voice player, wattmeter, cabinet with conventional or Corbin locks, lightning arrestors for RF, power and telephone lines, coaxial cable. Most stations employ black maximized antennas to discourage ice accumulation and security measures to prevent unauthorized program access. Options include synchronization, battery backup, solar power, remote programming by local, network or telco, multi-station audio distribution via RF or LAN / WAN or wireless network.