REACT was most commonly associated with CB radio in the 1960's through the 1990's,. though CB no longer plays an important role in REACT's operations. Today REACT’s primary mode of communications is the General Mobile Radio Service, also known as GMRS. GMRS uses Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radios and repeater systems. A repeater is a relay tower that allows walkie talkie type radios to communicate across the region using very low power.
Flagler County Assist REACT placed a GMRS repeater on the air in 1998 and another in 2000. Working with the Flagler Emergency Communications Association, a third repeater is also being put into operation.
GETTING ON GMRS: NO TEST REQUIRED!!!
The license required to operate a GMRS radio costs $85.00. It can be acquired online from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The license is good for five years and covers your entire family. GMRS is a very easy to use radio system. You do not have to be a radio expert to join our communications network.
Flagler County Assist REACT was also first in Flagler County to coordinate ham radio operators in the county back in the 1980's. This led to the birth of the Flagler County ARES group in 1991. The original ARES members and the start of the Flagler Palm Coast Amateur Radio Club came from the initial organization of amateurs in Flagler County Assist. Many hams in REACT are also members of the AREC & ARES groups.
Flagler County Assist REACT uses it's amateur radio resources to actively support REACT functions, and also to support the National Weather Service Skywarn progam. REACT members are active participants in the AREC & ARES Nets of Flagler County. But REACT does much more than communications. Look at our other programs to see what we do.
Flagler County Assist REACT Team 4800 has a number of volunteers trained to secure Landing Zones for FireFlight, the Flagler County Emergency Helicopter. Flagler County Assist REACT provided this service for FireFlight from 2005 to 2010. In 2010 Flagler County Emergency Services started the Flagler Emergency Management Volunteer Program assumed all responsiblity for coordinating volunteers including the Landing Zone Team. Many of our members are now part of this county organization and continue to provide assistance to FireFlight during special events and fucntions.
Flagler County's Skywarn program is sponsored by the National Weather Service in Jacksonville. Skywarn coordinates volunteer spotters with the objective of reporting severe weather events to the National Weather Service. These reports will help in the issuance of weather warnings. The spotters' observations, frequently more reliable than Doppler radar, can potentially save lives by adding warning time.
Flagler County Assist REACT has an active Skywarn program. REACT ham operators participate in the Skywarn Net on the Emergency Management Repeater. Working with hams from other organizations, severe weather reports are relayed through this net.
REACT members also run Skywarn operational nets on General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radio. Persons with scanners can listen to those nets on 462.675 MHz or 462.550 MHz. Liaison stations relay information between the GMRS and amateur radio nets. This additional coverage helps keep the flow of reports coming in.
Whenever a severe weather threat is identified by Team leadership, the organization activates its plan and spotters.
Most members of REACT have had Basic Skywarn training and all Coordinators have had Advanced Skywarn Training. Skywarn classes are routinely offered by the NWS through Emergency Management, giving members the chance to train. REACT has a MOU on a national level with the NWS.
Flagler County Assist REACT provides staff to support communications, deployment, and support of the SAR Team. The REACT Search Team (RST) are the first REACT Team Members to respond in the event of a search request. These members take an abbreviated class in search tactics, and are sometimes called upon to assist in a search for a lost person by the Flagler County Sheriff's Office. With our mobile communications capability, our members can rapidly cover an area.
REACT International was founded in 1962 to monitor the Citizens Band (CB) radio service for the purpose of relaying distress calls from the public. That lives on today as CB radio is still the largest public access radio service in the US. CB Channel 9 is designated by the FCC for use in emergency and for travelers' assistance only. REACT helped establish CB 9 as an emergency channel and it has been so designated ever since.
A large majority of the calls that we relay come from CB 9. Most are from I-95. But with the evolution of cell phones and the placement of call boxes, CB radio has seen a major decline in calls over the years and is not in very much use today. The trend over the years can be seen in our monitoring reports that are available on our web site.
GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) is now used to support Skywarn, public service functions, and many other response and activities in our organization.
REACT members no longer monitor CB 9 on a regular basis. The cell phone now puts today's travelers directly in contact with 911 centers as well as other services that were once relayed by REACT volunteers. We have adapted to the times in our mission.
Occasionally law enforcement has called us to use CB to get the word out on an accident or other situation. A CB base station is located at the EOC for emergencies.
So CB is not what it used to be, but REACT maintains CB radio just in case it is ever needed again. Today GMRS and other communications are our backbone but CB will always have a role in our communications.
This unit of our organization responds to the rare call for emergency traffic control assistance. The Flagler County Sheriff has a C.O.P. program and the City of Palm Coast Fire and Rescue Department has a Fire Police program. Those organizations handle most emergency traffic control situations. But there are times when additional assistance is needed with a major accident or other road incident.
When called upon, our Traffic Team of specially trained members will respond and assist. They have responded to accidents, power lines down, and even a tree down across a roadway. Members also get experience at various traffic control functions worked by the Team. These are in our Public Service Program.
REACT's public service program does not just help the community, it also supports the Team's training and keeps the organization in the public eye.
We routinely work the following events in Flagler County on an annual basis. We also assist in many other one time events.
We use these events as training grounds and also as PR. Each event helps strengthen the Team for when the next disaster hits. GMRS radio is the most commonly used communications medium at these events although Public Service channels are also used to coordinate with other agencies. FCA REACT is one of the most unique Public Service providers in Flagler County.
Flagler County Assist REACT provided an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) response Team when the EOC was activated for a major event. These events included hurricanes, tornado strikes, hazardous materials spills, and other natural and man made disasters. Flagler County Assist REACT assisted in some historic Flagler County events including the 1985 wildfires, 1998 wildfires, Hurricane Floyd and the 2004 Hurricane Season.
In 2010 Flagler County Emergency Management started the Flagler Emergency Management Volunteer program (FEMV) This new program directly coordinates volunteers under Emergency Management as one unit. A number of our volunteers are now a part of FEMV and still assist in the Emergency Operations Center.
FEMV Members staff public service agency radios, provide support for other staffing, communications and logistic support, technical assistance and other functions in the Emergency Operations Center. .
At each meeting of Flagler County Assist REACT we conduct a training sessions. This may be a hands on exercise or a review of plans and operations. FCA's training also extends into the Public Service events. Each event becomes a training ground for our members.
During a public service event, such as a parade, walk-a-thon, etc, we activate our response plans as if it were an emergency response. We use a scaled down version of the Incident Command System. This allows for good planning and control during the event. Members learn how to train and work together as one unit. A debriefing session is held after each event to see how it went and how it can be better run the next time.
It does not matter what radio band you operate on. What counts is professionalism and, through our training program, we have that in our Team.