Jan 16, 2013

Earthquake Emergency Communication Nodes -- What You Need to Know


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I want to share with you some important information from the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) about what to do if you need help following a major earthquake.

After a major, destructive earthquake, phone systems could crash. Computers, smart phones and other communication devices may become useless. If you’re sick, injured or in danger, how will you call for help?

The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) is in the process of establishing 48 Basic Earthquake Emergency Communication Node (BEECN) sites throughout the city. 

BEECNs (pronounced “beacons”) are places to go for emergency assistance and information during a post-earthquake communications blackout. BEECNs are intended for use when phones and email aren’t working and when residents in dire need of help are unable to remain safe at home. Workers at BEECN sites will use radios to relay calls for help to first responders.

“Communication is critical in the hours after an earthquake. It’s how lives are saved and how precious emergency resources are managed smartly. Radios are a great way to bridge the communication gap when phones are down,” said PBEM Director Carmen Merlo. “And with 48 sites carefully chosen across the city, emergency help is not far away.”

Residents can go to their nearest BEECN sites to report severe damage and injuries. BEECN workers can also help access resources such as water, shelter or first-aid. During this time, OPB radio 91.5 FM may broadcast official emergency messages directly from the City of Portland.

A map of BEECNs arrived in all Portlanders’ mailboxes in December. Updated information is available at www.PublicAlerts.org/earthquake. PBEM’s goal is to have each of these temporary nodes activated under a clearly marked red and white shelter within 24 hours of an earthquake, if needed. The Bureau is now acquiring equipment for the BEECN network and staffing it with city employees, Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) members and other volunteers.


Contact PBEM at PBEMinfo@portlandoregon.gov or 503-823-4375 if you have any questions.

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