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Valle Verde Resident Will Haas Uses Ham Radio to Promote Emergency Preparedness

Will Haas, a resident at Valle Verde in Santa Barbara, started working with ham radios at age 10. He has organized a ham radio group at his retirement community to provide communication during natural disasters and other emergencies.
Will Haas, a resident at Valle Verde in Santa Barbara, started working with ham radios at age 10. He has organized a ham radio group at his retirement community to provide communication during natural disasters and other emergencies. (Courtesy photo)

Earthquakes are common in California, but most go unnoticed because they are so minor. But if a large quake were to hit, knocking out power and affecting cell service, there is still one tried-and-true form of communication that could help save lives.

Will Haas, a resident at Valle Verde in Santa Barbara, has organized a ham radio group at the retirement community for just this reason.

Each week, he and his group run drills along with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) to make sure residents will find safety if a disaster were to occur. The group has incorporated a feature in its station that enables it to send and receive email by radio. This could be an invaluable benefit if and when phone and Internet service were to fail.

Haas’s interest in ham radio started at age 10. He received his first FCC license in 1948, and belonged to several clubs throughout his life. His club at Valle Verde assists with several types of events, including local marathons and triathlons, but it’s the emergency response preparedness that keeps the group on its toes.

According to the California Department of Conservation, more than 70 percent of the state’s population resides within 30 miles of a fault where high ground shaking could occur within the next 50 years.

July is Disaster Education and Awareness Month, and Haas’s club puts its emergency response skills to use at 7:30 p.m. every Monday with the ARES. A net control operator calls each station, awaiting a reply. The station operator states if he or she has any traffic (messages) for the net control operator. At the end of the roll call, operators with traffic are asked to report to the group.

— Brian Spano is a publicist representing Valle Verde.

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