CARIBOU, Maine — Seven Caribou area residents passed the Federal Communications Commission licensing exam for their Amateur Radio Operators License on Tuesday night, March 21.
For the past several weeks, the students, including a former sheriff, businessman, farmer and retired minister, have been meeting twice a week learning about emergency communications, radio and antenna design & safety and FCC regulations. The class was sponsored by the Caribou Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, a group of volunteers that serve the city’s Emergency Management Agency. As part of the Department of Homeland Security’s FEMA division, local RACES units operate under strict Civil Defense regulations to support local governments during periods of declared emergencies or should the President invoke the War Powers Act. Amateur Radio Operators have played a critical role in every major disaster since WWII.
Loren Gordon, deputy radio officer for the Caribou RACES unit said the availability of local instructors and local testing have been a tremendous shot in the arm for those who couldn’t travel downstate to take the required FCC exam. “We have cream of the crop instructors in Caribou now and are an authorized testing center,” Gordon said.
The 35-question exam covers all areas of radio communications vital to ensure competent and safe operations. There are three licensing levels including; Technician, General and Advanced. The Caribou unit now has seven General licensed operators, four Advanced licensed operators and nine Technician level licensed operators.
Caribou Chief of Police Michael Gahagan, who is the Caribou emergency manager, said the group has really made incredible progress since he established the unit last year. “They have incredible capability now to communicate around the world, send and receive critical data and support the community should we face a grid down scenario. I am fully confident in their skill and professionalism,” the chief said.
Among the new licenses are former Aroostook County Sheriff Ted St. Pierre, Jane West, Mark Westin, Rev. Scott Fair, Mike Ehlermann, Capt. Danny Raymond of the Caribou Fire & Ambulance Service and Loren Gordon of Caribou.
The new licensees will receive their official call signs from the FCC this week and undergo background checks with the police department before being certified to serve in the Emergency Operations Center.