Maritime emergency communications center established

SEATTLE – Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 41, which provides volunteer civilian support to the Coast Guard in the Port Ludlow area, has established a new maritime Emergency Communications Center (ECC) co-located with Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue and Jefferson County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES).

The new facility contains radio equipment to provide communication services for the Coast Guard and the Jefferson County Emergency Operations Center, in collaboration with the Port Ludlow Preparedness Council. It is used in routine and emergency Coast Guard operations and in overall disaster preparedness for the citizens of Port Ludlow and Jefferson County.

Since operations began at the new communication center earlier this year, the Coast Guard Auxiliary has used the facility for normal and emergency operations, including monitoring of Coast Guard marine radio channels, weekly emergency radio network drills, Auxiliary boat crew and communication training, man overboard drills, and supporting the Coast Guard in search and rescue.

Don Millbauer, Communications Officer for Division 4 of the Auxiliary said, “This creative partnership increases Auxiliary support to the Coast Guard and enhances coordination among all local responders by facilitating communication on land and water throughout Jefferson County.”

The new facility replaces a previous arrangement in which the Auxiliary’s communications were operated from a trailer. Millbauer approached Port Ludlow’s Fire Chief, Ed Wilkenson, with the idea of establishing a more accessible communication center at the local fire station. Chief Wilkenson enthusiastically endorsed the concept. He added the idea of including ARES in the center, to provide local interface with the Jefferson County Emergency Operating Center (EOC) in Port Hadlock. The fire department assisted with construction of the radio room within the fire station and moving the Auxiliary’s equipment.

Captain Stephen Metruck, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Seattle, said, “This initiative in Port Ludlow is a step forward in more effectively employing the Auxiliary in disaster response. The Sector is exploring similar ways to collaborate with local public safety response centers throughout our area of responsibility.”

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