Officers with the Blaine (WA) Police Department will have special assistance from a group of trained and FCC-licensed radio operators when that small town on the Canadian border hosts its Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the first Saturday of December.
According to the Northern Light, a team known within the department as the Auxiliary Communications Service—consisting of 26 citizen volunteers—will use portable radios and ground stations to communicate on the ham-radio network to help with reporting on traffic flow, medical emergencies, and other information useful to public safety personnel.
"We are providing volunteer manpower to the Blaine Police Department," said Blaine city councilmember and ACS member Mary Lou Steward (call sign KG6BMQ). "But our real goal is that in an emergency, when everything is overwhelmed, we will be able to communicate with the state and with everybody else. Cell phones and everything else will be down in a disaster. So our ham radios will work and allow us to communicate with the outside world."
ACS radio operators are capable of communicating with the Whatcom County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during an emergency. Working during non-emergency events offers the opportunity for the agencies connected to the EOC and the members of the ACS to practice their interaction.
The volunteer unit was formed in 2007, and typically conducts weekly practice sessions among the members of the group on Tuesday mornings.