SRD protective services coordinator Shaun Koopman demonstrates one of the district’s emergency radio units. Photo by Mike Davies, Campbell River Mirror.

Strathcona Regional District to test emergency radio system

District not participating in Shake Out or emergency prep. trade show this year

The Strathcona Regional District’s annual Shake Out and Get Out exercise and their Disaster Preparedness Tradeshow have been cancelled, and the district’s emergency communications team will instead be running an Exercise Off Grid.

“The safety of our regional emergency program volunteers is critical, and the concerns of COVID-19 do not support running these annual emergency program events. We still encourage everyone to participate in the British Columbia Shake Out by registering [online],” said SRD Board Vice Chair Brad Unger. “Members of our Emergency Communications Team will be participating in Exercise Off Grid.”

Between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Oct. 15, people should expect to hear several messages to that effect over local radio stations. The exercise will test the SRD’s ability to deliver emergency notifications to FM radio stations.

According to a release by the district, the system “allow[s] us to send all our local FM broadcasters an immediate life-safety message requesting them to divert from regular content and switch to emergency broadcasting only.”

Amateur radio operators within the SRD’s volunteer network will also receive the messages.

“The amateur radio operators who are embedded in SRD’s regional volunteer program understand that when they are tasked out it will likely be in less than ideal conditions therefore all of our radio kits are fitted in their own pelican case and capable of being powered from power supply that is not connected to the traditional network, hence the name Exercise Off Grid,” the release reads.

This system works in tandem with the community notification system, that sends text and voice messages to people who have requested them. That system will not be tested during the exercise.

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