This weekend, Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management coordinated the largest test ever of the state’s emergency communications network.
While the exercise was considered a success, it also shed light on one of the system’s vulnerabilities - a lack of qualified amateur radio operators east of the Cascades.
In this weekend’s fictionalized scenario, hackers managed to launch a crippling cyber attack on the electric grid, cutting off both telephone and internet access.
In this type of situation, planners have identified amateur radio as the fallback method of communication.
While the state has about 700 licensed volunteer radio operators to help run the system, most are in Western Oregon.
Morrow, Grant and Jefferson counties have no volunteers. Other counties have as few as 1.
“If we don’t have active amateurs who know what to do in that kind of a situation and are part of the county organization, then we may not have any communications in those counties and that’s a real concern,” said Fred Molesworth with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
Molesworth says would-be volunteers should contact the Oregon Office of Emergency Management for more information.