What Happens If Cell Antennas And Electricity are Knocked Out in a Crisis

In the 2016 November-December issue Chin wrote an article about using walkie talkies in emergencies. He received an amazing response, so we thought it was a good idea to come back and share some of the stories of the community involvement that resulted from the article and the importance of seriously considering becoming a part of the walkie talkie community.

FEB18Chin2After the first run of the article in the November-December 2016 issue, I was contacted by some of the readership who were interested. Some had radios they never quite learned to use. In other cases, some of our Neighborhood Councils read the article and it became “ground zero” for a discussion of radio use and overall general preparedness. Members of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) saw the article and started a discussion among those of us who were supposedly prepared, about the state of our own communications network. You’re about to find out how far we’ve come since that 2016 article and I think you’ll be pleased. 

I found the most enthusiastic people were in my own backyard. Neighbors I knew well and shared community concerns with regularly. The 16th Place Neighborhood Association headed by Starr Johnson & Robert Portillo stepped up with interest AND action. Portillo stated their reason for joining this effort: 

“The 16th Place Neighborhood Association saw the developing radio communications portion of CERT as an important addition to our group's neighborhood watch program.  Radio communication has broadened the scope of our group's interaction with our neighbors, community, and law enforcement.  A recent power outage caused by high winds showed us how we have benefited by our association with CERT, and the usefulness of radio communication.  The two sides of our street were in immediate contact and we were more efficiently able to communicate the welfare and needs of our neighbors.  More importantly, we've learned we can help others while helping ourselves.” 

I had the pleasure helping 16th Place get up to speed with testing and practice. Robert makes a great point when he says the radios are also good for other applications. My own street, South Lafayette Road, saw it firsthand when we had a police action develop. In our case, our radio usage allowed us to report what was happening and warn neighbors to shelter in place until the criminal threat passed, much more quickly than using our email, text, and social media platforms.  

Roger Satorra, like me, is part of the Community Emergency Response Team and is the head of area radio operations. Satorra states, 

“It seems very complicated and many people are radio-shy, but with a little practice, the shyness goes away. Even if one does not want to get involved with any emergency response teams, two-way radio is a very handy way to check in with neighbors. Most radios have weather channels programmed in them and, in case of a major disaster, important advisories will be relayed through those channels.”

CERT also learned a few tricks from the 16th Place group that we’ve added into our radio operations. We have invested in a robust stable of commercial grade GMRS radios, HAM radios, and repeater equipment. We started a relationship with the Los Angeles Amateur Radio Club and the Hughes Radio Club which has allowed us to reach a whole new community of “emergency reporters.”  Our crowning achievement is our monthly “radio check-in” which takes place the first Tuesday of each month. This component was a part of the original Operation Vox Comm idea and is now a reality. We’ve reached neighborhoods as local as 16th Place & Lafayette Road while hitting areas like Valley Village, Sepulveda Pass, Mount Washington, Hollywood, Harbor City, San Pedro, and spots in between. When the lights go out, for any reason, we’ll still have that reach. 

I want to invite YOU to join our radio check-ins. You don’t have to be a CERT member, just an interested member of the community with a radio. The check-in is the first Tuesday of each month from 7-830PM. The designated channels are GMRS Channel 15 (Freq. 462.5500), FRS Channel 7 (Freq. 462.72150), and the Hughes Repeater for our HAM licensed friends. If this paragraph is “all Greek to you,” reach out to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  I’ll walk you through the process and answer all of your questions. If you DON’T own a radio, but want to know more about them, reach out as well. We want you to have a voice when the times are good and not so good. You always have a choice when empowered with the skills and knowledge. This is Operation Vox Comm 2018.  Over and Out.

Chin Thammasaengsri is a member of the Los Angeles CERT Team and also serves as the Public Safety Liaison for the Mid City Neighborhood Council. 


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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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