Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lakeside CERT and CVG Radio Map El Monte Valley

Lakeside CERT and CVG members brief prior to taking to the field
On Sunday, July 13, volunteers spent their afternoon serving the citizens of Lakeside in a rather unusual way…grabbing HAM radios and driving throughout El Monte Valley. The effort was to “map” the valley for amateur radio communications in the event of a significant emergency.

Radio communication is often affected by terrain. Knowing where radio “dead spots” are located, as well as areas of strong communication, can make all the difference in a disaster. Having these locations mapped in advance can save valuable time and assist in saving lives.

Radio signal strength is measured in different areas of El Monte Valley
To aid in this effort, members of the Lakeside Fire District’s Communication Volunteer Group (CVG) and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) took to the streets and airwaves in a field exercise. Organized by CVG member Gordon Shackelford, these volunteers drove their personal vehicles to pre-designated spots in the valley and checked out their ability to communicate directly with the “Annex” fire facility located next to the fire station on Lakeside Avenue.

Volunteers were sent to several test locations in the valley
After a couple hours of testing and data collection, the volunteers concluded their efforts and debriefed. The data will be analyzed and eventually displayed on a map in the “Radio Shack” of the Annex. In the event of a major emergency the information on the map will direct CERT and CVG members to areas of good communication to speed response and recovery.

Volunteers check in for signal strength testing
While these volunteers come from two different groups, their objectives are the same - to assist their community in the event of a disaster. CERT personnel are taught disaster response skills such as light rescue and first aid. CVG personnel are tasked with establishing communications on amateur radio bands through a radio network (or “net”) and organize communication between CERT teams in the field. Both programs are vital parts of the District’s disaster response plan and we can’t thank these volunteers enough for their hard work and continued efforts. 

Test results were carefully recorded
For more information on both programs, please go to the District’s website www. Information on the monthly “Emergency Net”, can be obtained by emailing

Story and photos by: Lakeside Division Chief Jim Kirkpatrick

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