Clear Skies – No Headaches in Princeton
Last month, DSI RF Systems, Inc. sent two radio tower technicians to Princeton, NJ to perform a three-hour pro-bono project for the American Red Cross. Strong winds associated with a violent storm had damaged the Red Cross radio tower antenna in Princeton, limiting the organization’s radio frequency reach.
On a very clear day, John Frercks (KD2AAR) and Dale Boehme of DSI RF Systems installed a nine-foot 47.42MHz fiberglass omni-directional base antenna to the top of their existing 46 foot radio tower. This was a climbing job – a short trip for these seasoned men who each have twelve years of experience climbing much higher towers. In addition to installing the antenna using commercial grade clamps, they dressed-down the cables attached to other radio antennas on the tower.
Pre-work on the internal radio shack wiring and connections to a PolyPhaser panel was performed by Gerry Jurrens (N2GJ) and Gary Wilson (K2GW), both members of the N2ARC Radio Club, which is affiliated with the Red Cross in Princeton and the Delaware Valley Radio Association. Dennis McClary (KC2IMI) of the David Sarnoff Radio Club, (which also partners with the Red Cross on ARRL Field Day events) and Mike Prasad (KC2UOA) of the American Red Cross assisted with safety monitoring during the installation.
The 47.42MHz antenna is part of the Red Cross Disaster Services communication network. The Red Cross has a nationwide FCC license (KGB223) to use this frequency to communicate with its emergency response vehicles and other disaster operations. This frequency can be monitored at Emergency Operations Centers at both the county and state level, as well. The installation project increased the height of the new antenna from 20 feet to over 53 feet, which should increase the coverage area for mobile disaster response by the Red Cross in the Mercer County area of New Jersey.
The Princeton office, where the tower is located, is the primary radio site for Red Cross communications in the state of New Jersey. From this site, the Red Cross can communicate on the 2 meter band with other Amateur Radio stations throughout the state and also on High Frequency Bands with stations in the Northeast, including the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center in Washington, D.C.
The DSI RF Systems team was ComTrain certified in tower climbing safety and rescue procedures, and have had first aid/CPR training and RF hazard training. Their expertise is why on this clear day in August, there were no “headaches” (falling objects heading towards someone on the ground) and thanks to DSI RF System’s generosity, the Red Cross is better prepared for disasters with enhanced communications capability at its Princeton location.
By Michael Prasad, Disaster Services Lead Specialist, American Red Cross North Jersey Region
About the American Red Cross North Jersey Region:
The American Red Cross North Jersey Region provides programs and services throughout the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren, with a combined population of 5.7 million. The region trains and mobilizes 4,500 volunteers who support the delivery of services in the community. Last year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region responded to 419 local disasters, helping 929 families displaced by home fires; educated more than 15,000 community members about disaster preparedness; collected more than 28,500 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; helped 844 military families send emergency messages, receive financial assistance, and get counseling and referrals; assisted 870 military members and their families facing deployment on how to access our services anywhere in the world; and trained 143,344 individuals with lifesaving skills in CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.