La Clinica gets emergency radio gear for mobile clinic

La Clinica's Mobile Health Center gained the ability to communicate with others during an emergency thanks to the donation of a portable amateur radio station from Jackson County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, or JCARES.

The $700 station, purchased through a grant from the national Public Health Preparedness Program, will be stored on the mobile health center for use if an emergency knocks out other forms of communication, said David Dismuke, outreach coordinator for La Clinica.

The equipment will help clinic workers remain connected in case of a disaster and enable them to help send messages to and from other emergency responders.

"If we're out in the field when an event happens we can communicate with the county and can be part of sending messages from one place to another and can get messages from other ham radio operators about where it's safe to drive and other needed information," Dismuke said in a news release.

A La Clinica Mobile Health Center team is part of Jackson County's plan for responding to major emergencies. The mobile health center would not be part of the initial response, but could be called on in the following days to provide health care services.

JCARES, an all-volunteer group of amateur radio operators trained in emergency communications, functions under the Jackson County sheriff's volunteer program and reports to the county emergency manager. The group has developed capability to enable communication to continue during an emergency in which land phone lines and cell service fail. It has placed nearly two dozen amateur radio stations throughout the county, including at hospitals, fire stations, the county Emergency Coordination Center, the health department and the 911 dispatch center.

La Clinica staff members are training to use the equipment now, said Dismuke.

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