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Kent volunteer group prepares for communications emergencies
The Kent Communications Support Team (KCST), a dedicated community group of more than 25 amateur radio operators, is an activity of the Kent Emergency Management Department.
The group is tasked with providing emergency communications support for the city of Kent in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
As part of its continuing training, KCST members recently participated in a national amateur radio event, Field Day. The purpose of the event was to prepare and operate an amateur radio site under simulated emergency conditions.
The group assembled a multi-operator station at the Kent Department of Public Works site at 245th Avenue and 224th Street. There were three voice (single sideband-SSB) and one Morse Code (CW) tents, each running 100 watts of power – all powered by gasoline generators and using antennas specially erected on site.
The 24-hour exercise was successful and resulted in 262 phone and 114 CW contacts from Hawaii to Newfoundland.
KCST, which has been in operation for four years, has set a high standard for membership. Each member must hold a current amateur radio license, have taken a 16-hour emergency communications course, successfully completed CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training, have passed ICS 100 and 700, and received specialized community training.
Members meet monthly and also actively participate in regional and state-wide exercises on a quarterly basis. A VHF communications net, K7CST is activated weekly to test the reliability of individual member communication systems.
In addition, two members have been assigned to each Kent Regional Fire Authority Station to augment each site's emergency communications capabilities.
The KCST Emergency Communications Center is co-located at the Kent Regional Fire Authority Training Center at 116th Street, Kent.