Emergency Preparedness with the North Bend ARES Team and the City of North Bend

Did you know there is a group of dedicated volunteers here in North Bend who are actively prepared to assist and serve when usual methods of communication are not working? 

Whether it is a citywide emergency or a parade through town – and many instances in between – the North Bend Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) Team serves a critical role in emergency preparedness.

When regular communication channels fail, the North Bend ARES Team (NBAT) can assist public service agencies such as the City of North Bend, Eastside Fire and Rescue, and other local organizations in various ways, some of which can be lifesaving.

NBAT member Stephen Kangas, an FCC-licensed amateur radio operator, did just that on March 14 when he heard a call for help on one of his radios. 

At the time, Stephen’s radio was monitoring a radio repeater located on Rattlesnake Mountain, but this signal was being relayed via a linked repeater system on the Olympic Peninsula. Stephen responded to the call and learned that a man was traveling on a forest service road in the high mountain wilderness with his ten-year-old daughter.

They intended to have lunch at a lake when his vehicle became stuck in the snow. While the two were out of mobile cell phone signal range and did not have adequate cold weather clothing or water, they did have a radio that operates on amateur frequency bands already programmed with the frequency of the repeater in the area. 

Stephen consulted with other NBAT members and gathered lifesaving data such as the GPS latitude and longitude coordinates. He located them on Google Maps and relayed information to the Mason County Sheriff’s Office. Stephen reported the incident and location and provided emergency communications assistance that aided in the search and rescue operation. By 6:30 p.m. that evening, the father and daughter were rescued. 

Want to get involved?

NBAT conducts multiple monthly meetings in person, online, and on the air. They welcome all local Technician Class and above amateur radio operators to join. For more information, visit their website at www.groups.io/g/NBAT , or email NorthBendAresTeam@gmail.com

Curious how your city collaborates with NBAT and emergency operations in general?

City staff also train in various aspects of emergency management. Together, staff, Eastside Fire and Rescue, Snoqualmie-North Bend Police, and public service organizations such as NBAT can work jointly to provide efficient and timely emergency services that cater to the uniqueness of each emergency event. Staff acquires valuable skill sets that are essential to responding to an emergency, such as:

  • Operating snowplows and other city equipment: Much of the City’s Public Works team is trained to provide this service during weather events.
  • Emergency operations: Many staff are provided with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) training to assist in the event of an emergency.
  • Emergency communications: These staff will assist with emergency communications, which could include working with various agencies such as NBAT, Snoqualmie-North Bend Police, Eastside Fire and Rescue, and others. 

The city also utilizes a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). The CEMP provides internal guidance in responding to and managing a variety of emergencies. The city recently completed a 6-year update to the CEMP. It will be available on the city website under Emergency Management later this spring.

[Information provided by the City of North Bend]

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