Note: The following blog was originally posted October 2005, and titled, The Spirit of PetalumaNet is still Alive. Within weeks of Hurricane Katrina, PetalumaNet announced the NERT concept (Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams) on an Internet TV show titled, “Emergency Readiness – Can Sonoma County Communicate?” (10-19-2005) One of NERT’s mission was to promote greater use of amateur radio technology to transmit “disaster intelligence” information from the neighborhoods to the City’s EOC (Emergency Operation Center.)

Six years later (October, 2011), NERT Ham Emergency Radio Operators (HEROs) adopted the Neighborhood HamWatch model in order to field test various ways in which amateur radio technology might be used to transmit and receive “disaster intelligence” information, when due to lack of power or structural damage, all normal means of communications are inoperable. How the various governmental and non-governmental agencies, who receive these messages, use this disaster information is the responsibility of the leadership or managers of these organizations.

Over this past week (October 2011), Petaluma Neighborhood HEROs have field tested how amateur radios could be used to communicate with the School District Administrative Office. The signal strength of both dual band and handy-talkie two meter radios, using a simplex frequency, were used in reaching all the public school sites within the Petaluma City limits (Petaluma City School, Waugh School, and Old Adobe Union School Districts), as well as the other nearby elementary school districts (Cinnabar, Dunham, Liberty, Two Rock Union, and Wilmar Union.)

Once again,, a unique method of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) has demonstrated its usefulness in a major disaster situation. Since the California Great ShakeOut Day is scheduled for next Thursday, October 20, Petaluma Neighborhood HamWatch volunteers will repeat their “signal strength” field test to those public schools and parks that are located in the neighborhood areas of the Ham emergency radio operators who are available to participate. Stay tuned for additional blogs about our Neighborhood HEROs.

Blog updated: October 22, 2012

One year later, our Petaluma Neighborhood HEROs, officially known as Petaluma Neighborhood HamWatch, conducted another signal strength check on Wednesday, October 17, one day prior to the 2012 Great California ShakeOut. The next day (10-18-12), several of the NHW volunteer radio operators also participated in the City of Petaluma’s EOC (Emergency Operation Center) radio drill involving ACS radio operators (Auxiliary Communication Service.)

If you missed viewing the Internet TV show titled, Emergency Readiness – Can Sonoma County Communicate? in 2005, or just last Saturday; it will be shown again on Petaluma Community Access Channel 26 on Wednesday (10-24-12) and Saturday (10-27-12) at 6:30 p.m. The emergency communications content and concepts are just as relevant today as they were in 2005.