On October 15th, over 20 Mendocino County amateur radio operators — a.k.a ham radio operators — participated in the Great ShakeOut exercise.

Photo by Kate Maxwell.

Worldwide Event

This is a worldwide event which mimics actual conditions if there was an actual large earthquake and/or tsunami. If such an event were to occur, there is a chance that the power, phone, cellphone and internet would be disrupted. Amateur radio is a communications system that operates independently of conventional infrastructure.


In 2017, during the October fires in Mendocino County, much of the communications for the central part for the county — including police and fire communications — were disrupted for several days. In that event, local hams provided critical communications.


For the drill initiated on Oct. 15, volunteers observed and reported the status of bridges and rivers for both earthquake damage and a possible tsunami. Reports were collected from all around the county, both on the coast and inland and forwarded to a station acting as the Mendocino County Emergency Operations Center.

The event was organized by the Mendocino County Auxiliary Communications Service.

Mike Carter, a coordinator for MACS, stated, “We are pleased at the efforts and results of the drill. We can count on these volunteers to help out in an actual emergency.”

Mike Carter

Volunteer Organization

MACS is an all-volunteer organization made up of FCC-licensed amateur radio operators to serve the community in times of emergency. Donations to support these activities gratefully accepted. Donations can be made to Mendocino County Office of Emergency Services.

BOULDER CREEK, CA – AUGUST 19: Volunteer firefighter for the Boulder Creek Fire District Jaden Keil-Ribera, 19, left, checks his radio as he waits in front of the fire station before he and other volunteer firefighters are dispatched to battle the CZU August Lightning Complex fire on Aug. 19, 2020, in Boulder Creek, Calif. The Complex fire marks Keil-Ribera’s first time battling a wildfire. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)