Instructions for Sonoma County Amateur Radio Operators in an Emergency


These suggestions were developed by Michael Von der Porten, AD6YB.  Comments welcome:  send them to AD6YB@ARRL.Net.


  1. Check yourself, your family and your neighbors for safety.
    1. Perform personal safety assessments

                                                               i.      Treat critical, but treatable injuries

    1. Perform building assessments

                                                               i.      Turn off gas if there’s a leak (only).

                                                             ii.      Turn off electricity if there’s an electrical problem

    1. Treat secondary injuries.  Help neighbors with disabilities.


  1. Determine your emergency radio response:
    1. If you’re registered with the Sonoma County Office of Emergency Services (OES) under the Auxiliary Communications System (ACS) (authorized under Federal Radio Amateurs Communications Emergency Services [RACES]) program, check in using instructions from that agency.


    1. If you’re registered with the American Radio Relay League’s (ARRL) Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES), operating under the auspices of the Sonoma County Radio Amateurs (SCRA), check in using instructions from that group.  [ARES provides certain emergency communications services for the City of Santa Rosa including its Fire Department.]


    1. If you’re not pre-registered for emergency radio response, you may MONITOR one or more of the emergency frequencies:


                                                               i.      146.730- (PL=88.5) (ACS county net)

1.      145.350-  (Central County area around Santa Rosa)

2.      145.190-  (Russian River)

3.      146.730- (North County)

4.      146.205+ (Sonoma Valley)

5.        146.910-  (South County)

                                                             ii.      147.315+ (ARES)  Richard Freitas <>

                                                            iii.             (CDF)


    1. If, AND ONLY IF, a general call for radio volunteers is reported, contact net control to offer assistance.


  1. Organize your neighborhood.  On a board, identify who has what skills.  Assign people to various tasks including those identified below:


  1. Analyze your situation:
    1. Perform a community inventory of (a) injuries [number, severity, location], (b) deaths, (c) building damage [address, severity, description of building, description of damage], (d) infrastructure damage [water lines broken, power lines down]. 
    2. Identify available resources including water, food, first aid supplies, available personnel, fuel (including fuel in vehicles).  Determine what and who may be able to help other neighborhoods.
    3. Identify neighborhood needs including medical treatment, medical transport, extrication needs, food and water needs, etc.  


  1. Report your neighborhood status to the nearest fire station.  In general, walk the report there.  Avoid using vehicles as the available roads will likely be needed for official use and roads may be blocked by downed lines, debris and glass.  Use amateur radio to contact the local net control ONLY if immediate assistance is needed.


  1. Prepare for “extreme camping.”  Expect no help for three days.
    1. Set up tents, set up bedding.  What campers are available?
    2. Arrange cooking facilities.  What camp stoves, fuel are available?  What barbeques and propane are available?
    3. Arrange sanitary facilities.  Are any septic systems in good condition and accessible for disposal of collected sewage?
    4. Organize water supply and treatment. Plan to treat water hours in advance of need with chlorine bleach.
    5. Determine food resources:  what’s in the neighborhood refrigerators, freezers?  What’s the best order of consumption?
    6. What dry goods, canned goods are available?
    7. What lighting is available?  Flashlights, camp lanterns, electric lights, 12V lighting (from vehicles), light sticks?
    8. Identify if any generators are available.  For which homes have full electrical isolations switches been installed?  If not, run power cords only to specific appliances.  With care, some refrigerators can be kept cold with only a few hours operation per day.
    9. Identify what portable radios (AM / FM) are available and tune to local emergency channels.  KSRO-AM 1350, KCBS-AM 740


  1. Develop welfare contact information.  Obtain inventories of families’ status and desired family contacts.  Deliver these forms to the local fire station for distribution family members.


  1. Evaluate how volunteers can be used effectively.  Is there cleanup, preparations, food service, etc. that is safe to do and appropriate for the situation?


  1. Prepare records for insurance companies. List and photograph damage.  Identify what types of insurance people have in place.  Be prepared for insurance claim adjusters.  Be prepared for FEMA and government assistance agencies that may need identification and need to know your needs.