Ham radio operator assisted after Sandy Hook

Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Rich Claing, left, a ham radio operator from Coffee County, with Josh Taylor of Bedford County Emergency Management Agency, who oversees the Aux Comm Group.
Submitted photo

Bedford County Emergency Management Agency has a cadre of 14 Amateur Radio operators who serve as EMA communications and logistics support volunteers. This cadre is the Bedford County EMA Auxiliary Communications Group, or Aux Comm Group for short. The group meets every other month in the EMA classroom and receives various training and presentations. At their late spring meeting they were trained by the state Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) on how to deploy and conduct initial property Damage Assessments right after a major disaster occurs. These assessments are critical for obtaining federal disaster aid.

Last week, they received a presentation from a fellow ham radio operator who lives in Coffee County and volunteers for its EMA office. Rich Claing, call sign W1RGC, is retired and recently located to Coffee County from Connecticut. Claing was a ham radio operator member of a state incident management team while living in Connecticut when the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting incident took place. He was activated and deployed nearby to the incident location to provide communications and logistics support for the public safety response to the incident. Claing spoke about the myriad of communications and logistics issues that had to be worked through during the response to the incident. Claing also said that Coffee County EMA is trying to start up an Aux Comm Group capability like Bedford County EMA has in place.