An organization that is helping the community on the Big Island by providing support to local authorities and communities is the Oahu Chapter of REACT. REACT stands for Radio EmergencyAssociated Communications Teams. The team is on Oahu, but currently they are the only team in Hawaii, so sometimes they will deploy to other islands if they are able to.
This Oahu organization currently has 5 active members and 4 new probationary members. REACT is a newly formed team so it is still a very small team, but they are slowly growing. A team was in Honolulu but it disbanded a few years ago and was recently created anew by the current chief when REACT International asked him to form a replacement team on Oahu.
The head of the Oahu REACT, Dr Anderson, and another member were on the Big Island when the 6.9 earthquake struck. The purpose of the trip to the Big Island was a meeting with a resident and one from Maui who are interested in forming teams on those islands. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time, but since they were there for a meeting and not a deployment, they had to wait for equipment to be flown over before they could get the camera set up a couple days later.
Currently only about a third of the members are amateur radio operators. REACT is one of the only organizations that use all forms of radio communications; amateur radio is only one aspect of REACT. They monitor all forms of radio but most of our communication is on their own private system, which the members do not need to be licensed for.
Whenever REACT is working a disaster site or event, they normally try to have a remote camera set up to live stream video back to the command post. This time they decided to try something different and broadcast it on their website for everyone around the world to see instead of just keeping it to ourselves. The live stream on their website was from the Lower Puna area for the past 3 weeks and it was kept on a 30 second delay, just in case the camera recorded anything that the general public should not see we could cut the feed to the website before it broadcast. It worked out great until the lava flow changed directions on Monday and swallowed up the camera. They are still posting updates and satellite imagery of real-time volcanic gas releases and wind directions, but no longer have a live video feed.
According to Dr. Anderson, the feed was a wireless remote video security camera mounted on a tripod connected to a mobile hotspot all running off of a 100-watt solar panel with a battery backup.
Dr. Anderson stated, “that since this was not a communications event, other EMCOMM groups were not involved. This is one of the ways that REACT differs from other EMCOMM groups. We not only provide communications, but also assist in a wide variety of situations and with this particular event we had members monitoring lava flows in the area. After a couple homes were broken into during the evacuations, we had members start providing a Neighborhood Watch over evacuated areas.”
Most people are not familiar with REACT at all, or what all REACT teams actually do. They assume that we are just like ARES and RACES, only doing EMCOMM, but EMCOMM is only one aspect of REACT. Many teams provide additional services to their communities such as crowd control for public events, traffic control at accidents and public events, parking control for public events, search and rescue, first aid stations for public events, neighborhood watch programs, public disaster preparedness training classes, damage assessment, community beautification projects, and much more.
Unlike ARES, RACES, SATERN, and other EMCOMM groups REACT is activated after a disaster happens, REACT teams are the only group monitoring the various established emergency frequencies on multiple types of radios for emergencies before a disaster happens.
Thanks to the chief of the orgainztion, Dr. Anderson, WH6FQE, for providing information for this story and for running this great organization.
Facts about REACT from the website. https://www.oahureact.org/
Oahu Emergency REACT, Team #6252, is a subordinate 501(C)(3) organization of REACT International, Inc. – an International Organization with teams located around the world.
REACT is a network of committed professionals with a desire to assist their communities in times of emergency or disaster. Our members provide their expertise when disasters strike and assist with augmenting local resources with the goal of accelerating relief efforts.
Since 1962, REACT volunteers have been “on the scene” providing critical communications and radio monitoring services. Our dedicated members work to “assist in and improve” their local communities. They annually donate their time, equipment, knowledge, and energy working an untold number of hours across a wide range of public service events and incidents.
REACT provides public service communications to individuals, organizations, and government agencies to save lives, prevent injuries, and give assistance wherever and whenever needed. We will strive to establish a monitoring network of trained volunteer citizen-based communicators using any and all available means to deliver the message.
Oahu Emergency REACT is a group of dedicated volunteers who serve the citizen’s of and the visitors to the island of Oahu with communications assistance and emergency response. Over the years, REACThas gained a reputation around the world for getting the job done, whatever the circumstances.
REACT teams across the country and around the world assist many organizations in their local communities, including American Red Cross, Special Olympics, March of Dimes, Easter Seals, American Diabetes Association, Society to Prevent Blindness, and many others.
Recently Oahu Emergency REACT team members assisted with radio communications for the 2017 Honolulu Marathon, The fourth largest marathon in the United States, as well as the 34th Annual Great Aloha Run. Members are also currently assisting with the ongoing Kilauea Volcanoeruption emergency on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Oahu Emergency REACT members are trained for and perform traffic control duties in private lots and on a case-by-case basis with the permission of county and state police agencies. This is essential for various community events, disasters, and even every day public service responses when emergency services are overwhelmed. This service frees up local emergency agencies so they can more quickly and appropriately respond to critical tasks.
Crowd control is another essential service that Oahu Emergency REACT provides for various public service and disaster response services. The ability to sort and direct large crowds helps event organizers and disaster response agencies achieve their tasks more efficiently while maintaining a safe environment for citizens.
Oahu Emergency REACT members are also being certified as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Emergency Respondersand SKYWARN Storm Spotters to better serve the citizens and visitors of Honolulu. All members of Oahu Emergency REACT are certified in First Aid, CPR, and AED.
Around the world REACT team members serve as an integral part of the emergency management team. As such, they have primary responsibility for storm spotting and disaster response. Additional response capabilities include damage assessment, emergency communications, evacuation, crowd and traffic control, light search & rescue, and Emergency Operations Center and Command Post staffing.
Oahu Emergency REACT members utilize HF, 1.25-meter, 2-meter, and 70-cm bands in the amateur radio service along with CB, FRS, GMRS, and MURS radios for communications. We also monitor Aircraft and Marine radio emergency frequencies. We also communicate with other REACT teams across the United States and in other countries around the world using a private digital communications system.
Oahu Emergency REACT has been designated as a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador™ by the National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration(NOAA).
The Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador initiative is an effort to formally recognize NOAA partners who are improving the nation’s readiness against extreme weather, water, and climate events. As a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, we are committed to work with NOAA and other Ambassadors to strengthen national resilience against extreme weather.
Membership in Oahu Emergency REACT is open to anyone on the island of Oahu that has a desire to serve their community and make Oahu a better and safer place to live. The only requirements are that you have a desire to serve your community. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, religion or ethnic origin.
The most important thing is the will and desire to serve others. The rest we can help you with. We will help you develop your radio skills, your people skills, and your leadership skills. You need to be 13 years old to be a junior member and 18 to be an adult member. No radio ownership, licenses, or experience are necessary to join. We will help you choose a radio that fits your activity level and budget to get you started on a fun-filled adventure in emergency radio communications. If you want to become a licensed Amateur Radio Operator (HAM Radio) we can even assist you with the process of getting your license and getting you set up as a Ham.
After your 60-day probationary period, The Board of Directors and the Team Members vote you in as a full Team Member.
Right now REACT 1 is equipped with radios for 2-meter, 70-cm, 1.25-meter, FRS/GMRS, MURS, and CB frequencies. The Vantage Vue portable weather station from Davis in REACT 1 and it worked flawlessly as they monitored a storm approaching the island of Oahu. Read more about REACT 1 by clicking here.
Written by KH6OWL