When the big earthquake hits, use UHF radio

BEECN spread all over the city of Portland

The Basic Earthquake Emergency Communications Node -- BEECN, known as beacon -- includes a handheld UHF radio that will work when other communication doesn't, Sept. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
The Basic Earthquake Emergency Communications Node -- BEECN, known as beacon -- includes a handheld UHF radio that will work when other communication doesn't, Sept. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — When the big quake hits, phones won’t work and cars can’t travel. One of the clearest lines of communication between people and emergency service providers will come from any one of almost 50 remote communications sites spread throughout the city of Portland.

One of those sites is at Clatsop Butte City Park in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood of Southeast Portland. Behind an old pump house, a shed houses a stainless steel bin containing items that could mean the difference between life and death.

The Basic Earthquake Emergency Communications Node -- BEECN, known as beacon -- is made up of 48 of stainless steel chests spread all over the city of Portland, Sept. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
The Basic Earthquake Emergency Communications Node — BEECN, known as beacon — is made up of 48 of stainless steel chests spread all over the city of Portland, Sept. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Jeremy Van Keuren of the Neighborhood Emergency Team said the real important part is “the push-to-talk UHF radio which has to be quickly assembled.”

This handheld radio would be able to establish radio contact with the nearest Portland fire station, which in turn would be able to contact Portland’s Emergency Coordination Center.

“The idea that the surrounding community can come here and use it as essentially a telephone booth to the city who is coordinating the city’s response,” Van Keuren said.

The Basic Earthquake Emergency Communications Node -- BEECN, known as beacon -- includes emergency items in stainless steel chests positioned throughout Portland, Sept. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
The Basic Earthquake Emergency Communications Node — BEECN, known as beacon — includes emergency items in stainless steel chests positioned throughout Portland, Sept. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

This Basic Earthquake Emergency Communications Node — BEECN, known as beacon — is made up of 48 stainless steel chests that are spread all over the city of Portland.

They’re housed in mostly public places such as a building in Lents Park, and they have basic emergency medical supplies — bandages, a cot and splints to stabilize broken bones.

It’s the last line of defense in the event of a catastrophic earthquake. The coordinator of this program said the contents of this small cache of supplies could make all the difference for people when the big one finally strikes.

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