Vashon-Maury Island Radio Club (VMIRC) & their Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) Team

Contact: John Galus

Communications Introduction

Communications during an emergency or disaster helps you manage your affairs, helps coordinate assistance efforts, and helps get the most out of the island resources. You can provide your own communications at very low cost. Communicating with other islanders is easy and you can do it any time. There are many opportunities to help as a communications volunteer, too!

VashonBePrepared Communications Mission

Personal Communications - The most important component of emergency communications is the individual. VashonBePrepared's primary communications goal is to help the individual acquire and use inexpensive, non-licensed radio equipment to communicate with neighbors, other island citizens, and the island's public safety and service organizations. VashonBePrepared will also provide or support communications training and instructions for individuals in radio communication techniques.

Community Communications - To manage our limited community resources as effectively possible, it is necessary for there to be a means of communications. VashonBePrepared will develop and maintain a comprehensive island communications plan for public and private resources. VashonBePrepared will assist in acquiring and deploying the necessary equipment for the resources to communicate between citizens and VMIRC radio club volunteers, with Local Area Communication Centers and with our communciations room within Vashon's Emergency Operations Center. The plan will also identify the means necessary to provide communications with regional public and private aid and relief agencies.

Island Channel

To help islanders "find" each other by radio, VashonBePrepared has devised the "Island Channel." This is just a specific channel on three popular unlicensed radio services:
Citizens Band Channel 2
Family Radio Service (FRS) Channel 2 (462.5875 MHz)
Marine Channel 71 (ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore)
In the case of emergency or disaster, you are encouraged to listen on these channels and if you need help, use those channels to call for it. These channels have been selected because they are lightly used and likely to be clear during an emergency. The use of CB Channel 9 is designated a National Emergency Channel, but is likely to be quite crowded in an actual disaster. Marine Channel 71 is a "go-to" channel that is generally used after establishing contact on Channel 16. Like CB Channel 9, the marine calling channel is likely to be quite crowded.

The Island Channel information is printed on a handy wallet-sized card that you can download and keep with you at all times. Click to download card

VoV Standing By - 1650AM

VoV Standing By - VashonBePrepared has partnered with Voice of Vashon and the Vashon Park District to create a system of small transmitters that will be used to provide emergency information for Islanders in the event of emergencies of all sizes, from smaller events like big storms that knock out power to the Island to the Big One that knocks us down for one or more weeks. Tune your AM radio to 1650 AM to hear Vashon Standing By at any time. Where there is not an ongoing emergency, VoV Standing By broadcasts general information about the island 24/7.

Amateur Radio

The island is home to the active and enthusiastic Vashon-Maury Island Radio Club ( The club maintains an amateur or "ham" station in the Emergency Operations Center area of the fire department's main building, a mobile communications trailer, and provides training exercises for its members. Members of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) make emergency communications a primary focus of their ham radio activities. If you'd like to know more about ham radio, please feel free to attend one of the club's meetings!

Communications Volunteers

VashonBePrepared needs communications volunteers of all capabilities and background. Have you ever used a "push-to-talk" radio? Do you have experience as a receptionist or customer service representative? Would you like to receive communications training, regardless of your background? If so, please contact the VashonBePrepared Volunteer Coordinator Mary Swanson for more information.

Communications Resources

There are numerous books and Web sites that provide information on personal communications. Here are some recommended resources:

  • "Two-Way Radios and Scanners for Dummies" by island author Ward Silver - covers FRS/GMRS, CB, Marine, and Amateur radio, along with detailed information about using a scanner to listen to public and private communications
  • "Guide to Emergency Survival Communications" by Dave Ingram - focuses specifically on personal communications in emergency and disaster situations
  • REACT International - - organization devoted to the use of personal radio communications in emergencies and disasters
  • The American Radio Relay League - - comprehensive site on amateur radio
  • "Ham Radio for Dummies" also by Ward Silver - in-depth introduction and user's guide to ham radio
  • "The World of CB Radio" by Long, Crystal, and Keating - in-depth information on CB radio around the world
  • "Scanner Radio Guide" by Larry Barker - introduction to the use of radio scanners
  • "Passport to World-Band Radio" by International Broadcasting Services - international directory of short wave broadcasts and the use of short wave receivers
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - - numerous emergency and disaster preparedness links and materials.
    US Power Squadrons - - organization devoted to boating and marine safety