2023 California ShakeOut Drill

Article by Sara Steiner / KJ6SAS
San Benito County Amateur Radio Association

2023 California ShakeOut Drill

Many of our San Benito County residents are not familiar with south county, its historic working cattle ranches and vast wildlife beauty exemplified by Pinnacles National Park. The area’s rural schools have served these remote communities for generations, providing pre-K through 8th grade education, playgrounds, and vital gathering hubs.

Since these regions are prone to isolation in times of inclement weather, fire or earthquakes, the San Benito County Amateur Radio Association (SBCARA) has worked in partnership with the Office of Emergency Services (OES), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and state regulatory agencies to install amateur radio repeaters in strategic locations throughout the county of 1,390 square miles.

The N6SBC repeater system is designed to provide communication throughout the county, regardless of power shutdowns or cell tower failure. The main benefit of amateur radio is the ability to communicate one-on-one as well as with groups on a wide range of frequencies and over long distances. With support from OES, the Community Foundation of San Benito County, and the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, SBCARA has been able to expand its N6SBC repeater coverage to the eastern and southern reaches of the county and complete its goal of installing amateur radios in all five of its rural schools.

Licensed amateur radio operators, also known as hams, improve their skills through volunteering their communication services for events and participating in radio drills and call-in nets. One such exercise is the annual California ShakeOut Drill. The ShakeOut Drill is an international event for millions of people worldwide who practice earthquake safety at work, in schools, and at home.

Recently, on October 19th at 10:19 AM, SBCARA Advisory Chair Tim Takeuchi W6TST held an amateur radio net call-in for hams on the N6SBC repeater frequency. SBCARA volunteers were stationed at four of the rural schools to explain and demonstrate the benefits of amateur radio. After staff and students performed their earthquake preparedness practice they were invited to check-in on the net. It was especially exciting for them to clearly hear classmates at schools many miles away, report their name, and practice the Modified Mercalli (Mike Mike) scale of earthquake damage.

SBCARA encourages school staff, board members, and community residents to become licensed hams by sponsoring their participation in any of the quarterly test sessions hosted by the club. For more information visit www.sbcara.org.

Many thanks to SBCARA amateur radio operators – Tim Takeuchi W6TST, Sara Steiner KJ6SAS, Mel Tolentino KK6MES, Clark Stone KK6UGA, Ron Ross KD6ZXG; and school administrators and staff – Sarah Fruit (Cienega School), Amanda McCraw (Panoche School), Danyell Ortez (Willow Grove School), and Elizabeth Volmer (Jefferson School).