STARC Stays Up All Night to Save Lives During Hurricane Ian

No club here. The Sheriff’s Tactical Amateur Radio Communications (STARC) is a service organization located in Tampa, Florida that works hard to keep people safe during natural or manmade disasters. The volunteer-run outfit uses amateur radio equipment to communicate messages back and forth from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to other public safety, utility, or disaster service organizations when other modes of communication fail during emergencies.

STARC volunteers certainly stepped up when Hurricane Ian rocked Florida in late September, necessitating the need for STARC activation from September 26-29. Over the course of the four-day activation, 16 STARC volunteers worked around the clock passing along information about aid and assistance, using a web-based emergency management system, to officers who were then able to help those in need. Five of the Hillsborough County Sheriff office locations are equipped with amateur radio equipment specifically for STARC use.

The volunteers who worked nonstop for the benefit of others are everyday hams who work in and around Hillsborough County. They undergo strict background checks before joining STARC and must commit to a minimum of nine hours of service every three months, attend two meetings annually, and buy their own uniform (shirt/pants), and all amateur radio operating equipment. Plus, they are required to take on deployments in Hillsborough County, Florida, or any other state deemed to be in demand of STARC’s support.

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