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#202365 - 05/24/10 01:04 PM Can you rely on the radio?
MartinFocazio Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2177
Loc: Bucks County PA
Worth reading all of this.

From:
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/...ll-disaster.ars

On the night of January 18, 2002, 911 operators serving Ward County, North Dakota began receiving panicked phone calls from the residents of Minot, the state's fourth largest city. "I don't know what it is but there was a huge, huge crash," one caller explained. "There's smoke everywhere outside."

"You need to stay calm until we can figure out what, what's going on," an operator told a resident. "You need to stay in your house."

But it was already too late for that.

"Female: My daughter ran out the front door.
Operator: She ran out? How old is your daughter?
Female: She's twelve . . . Is she going to die out there?
Male: I don't know.
Female: You guys have to hurry please."

What neither emergency dispatch or Minot's residents knew yet was that a railway train transporting anhydrous ammonia for fertilizer had just derailed nearby. It exploded and dumped almost 250,000 gallons of the compound near one of the town's residential neighborhoods. With electricity down, residents who smelled fumes frantically tuned their battery operated radios to KCJB AM 910, the designated local emergency broadcast station, for news.

But to no avail.

"KCJB, and every other radio station in town, were not reporting any news or information about the anhydrous spill," explains New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg in his gripping book Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media. "Instead, all six of Minot's name-brand stations—Z94, 97 Kicks, Mix 99.9, The Fox Classic Rock, 91 Country, and Cars Oldies Radio—continued playing a standard menu of canned music, served up by smooth-talking DJs trading in light banter and off-color jokes while the giant toxic cloud floated into town."

All of those licenses were owned by Clear Channel Communications, Klinenberg notes, which, upon purchasing the signals in 2000, "replaced locally produced news, music, and talk programs with prepackaged content engineered in remote studios and transmitted to North Dakota through digital voice-tracking systems."

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#202366 - 05/24/10 01:25 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: MartinFocazio]
Nicodemus Offline
Paranoid?
Veteran

Registered: 10/30/05
Posts: 1341
Loc: Virginia, US
Wow, that's a very interesting article. Thanks for the link.

I realize that it said the power was out in much of the area so that it would be left up to people who had battery operated radios, emergency radios and car radios for information, but I wonder if the EAS and EBS alerts went out to the television stations as well.
_________________________
"Learn survival skills when your life doesn't depend on it."

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#202367 - 05/24/10 01:30 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: MartinFocazio]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: martinfocazio
...replaced locally produced news, music, and talk programs with prepackaged content engineered in remote studios and transmitted to North Dakota through digital voice-tracking systems...

It's unfortunate that many smaller and even mid-size cities hardly have any true local content from their radio stations or someone who can suddenly jump on the air to report some rapidly developing emergency. In many areas, local TV will be a better source of information since they still have reporters who can actually go out, gather local information, and then report the news. Unfortunately, the lack of portable radios that can tune into the new digital signals is a serious drawback.

Not that long ago, I moved near some railroad tracks and potential chemical spills from a derailment is why I purchased a NOAA radio with SAME capability, but I eventually realized that the chances that the local authorities would utilize the EAS to report a train derailment apparently was nil.

To its credit, that city does have its own low power AM radio station that it can activate during emergencies. It was activated once in recent memory when a wildfire was approaching. Unfortunately, although that low power radio station is a good way to disseminate information, it's some obscure frequency at the edge of the dial, so it's useless in actually alerting people, like in the middle of the night, since no one will be tuned to it. The local authorities would likely need to rely on things like reverse 911 or patrol cars making announcements on their PA systems to wake people up in the middle of the night.

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#202373 - 05/24/10 02:44 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: Arney]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 881
Loc: Colorado
That's one of the advantages to having and using a scanner.
It's realtime information from the mouths of the responders.

The broadcast media is late at best, misinformed to some degree always, and probably doesn't cover your area anyway.

A reverse 911 call for this kind of emergency would be good.

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#202376 - 05/24/10 03:16 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: unimogbert]
benjammin Offline
Rapscallion
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Bearcat scanner with trunking capability, and hopefully the local Emergency Response hasn't gone over to digital or encryption.
_________________________
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

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#202379 - 05/24/10 03:48 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: benjammin]
JBMat Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 745
Loc: NC
I subscribe to a local TV station's emergency weather alert. During a severe T-storm last year, we got a call. I have satellite tv, and the rain was knocking it out. I turned to local radio - AM first - nothing about the possible tornado in the area. Scanned local FM stations, 1 - one - had any local news, and thankfully they had the exact location and reported it. The rest were playing canned stuff (it was a weekend) and had nothing. Been meaning still to get a weather band. Maybe this weekend.


Edited by JBMat (05/24/10 07:43 PM)
Edit Reason: spelink

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#202382 - 05/24/10 04:27 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: JBMat]
Eugene Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 2941
Scanner seconded. Go to radio reference and look up whats being used in your AO, could be a simple system, analog trunk, digital trunk or encrypted. Analog trunking capable can run ~$150, Digital trunking ~$500. I moved to the north end of the city and am in another county which now has digital trunking but I'm still within the city limits so the first responders here I can hear on the analog trunk scanner. If we hear/see/sense anything funny I turn on the scanner and listen. Even if it does make it to the local news I'm still ahead of them.

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#202395 - 05/24/10 07:06 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: Eugene]
benjammin Offline
Rapscallion
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Christmas eve, 2008 in Lake Mary, Florida, 25 miles north of Orlando. Tropical storm Olga is racing across the state from out of the Gulf of Mexico at 45+ mph at 5:00 am. Just before it reaches the freeway on the west side of town, it stalls a little and drops a funnel. The local tv news was watching it, NOAA weather radio was monitoring it, but by the time the word got back and got broadcast, the darned things was already 2/3 of the way through town and nearly over with.

The only thing keeping up with that storm was the Emergency Response center, who were getting live updates from field observers and patrolmen on station. The only way anyone would've had enough warning of the funnel was if they were listening on a scanner to the observers and the dispatch coordinating of services.

Nothing beats live feed.
_________________________
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

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#202398 - 05/24/10 07:37 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: MartinFocazio]
philip Offline
Addict

Registered: 09/19/05
Posts: 639
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
I was stationed at Minot AFB for four years back in the 70s, so I was interested. Let me point out that although Minot is said to be the fourth largest town in the state (which is true), the population then and now is about 37,000. And it's in the middle of nowhere - no other towns nearby, just some villages.

I'd guess there's plenty of blame to go around - nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, so when it shows up, there's no one ready.

If any readers here are in a smaller rural town, I'd suggest asking your local reps to read the story and ask what tests of EAS have been performed lately.

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#202405 - 05/24/10 08:46 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: philip]
Eugene Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 2941
Sometimes you can find the local sykwarn/storm spotter frequencies and program them in so you can be ahead of the game.
When storms come in here the power grid is so out of date and overloaded that most of the radio stations go off air, only the newest most popular stations stay up as they can afford the backup generators.

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#202407 - 05/24/10 09:12 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: Eugene]
Phaedrus Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 3056
Loc: Big Sky Country
Four years in Minot! Wow! That's 40 months of winter. grin Just be thankful that that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
_________________________
“I'd rather have questions that cannot be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” —Richard Feynman

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#202409 - 05/24/10 09:35 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: Phaedrus]
JohnE Offline
Addict

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 601
Loc: Southern Cal
"Why not Minot...? Freezin's the reason..."

Or so I've heard.



_________________________
JohnE

"and all the lousy little poets
comin round
tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson"

The Future/Leonard Cohen


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#202411 - 05/24/10 10:20 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: JohnE]
Phaedrus Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 3056
Loc: Big Sky Country
Seems like most of the time I'm checking the weather in the winter, the coldest temp in the lower 48 is either Minot, ND or International Falls, MN.
_________________________
“I'd rather have questions that cannot be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” —Richard Feynman

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#202460 - 05/25/10 04:46 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: philip]
philip Offline
Addict

Registered: 09/19/05
Posts: 639
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
My favorite weather experience was the day we had a hundred degree increase in temps in 24 hours. I don't remember now what the temperatures were, but one day we were freezing in our parkas at way below zero, and the next morning I put on my parka and went out and it hit the 50s or 60s above zero, and everybody was shedding their parkas and showing sweatstains on their shirts. Unbelievable. Winter one day, summer the next. The standing joke was that spring was one day long. We skipped it that year.

It flooded, of course, since the snow was melting like crazy.

The Air Force was very good at survival training, on an off topic note. I had survival training for ditching at sea (I was a Minuteman Missile Combat Crew Member, and we never flew), for jungle survival (no jungles in North Dakota), and for winter survival (bingo!). I was at Camp Pendleton watching the Marine jungle survival training before they shipped to Vietnam - it was about 30 minutes of a guy eating a snake raw and killing a bunny with a karate chop to the back of its head, then skinning and gutting it. One of my fellow ROTC cadets asked why we got such good training and the Marines got so little since they'd actually be out there, and the answer was, "They'll never be in a survival situation." Gulp.

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#202465 - 05/25/10 05:48 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: philip]
pezhead Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/18/10
Posts: 76
Loc: Minnesota
Temperature extremes sounds almost like Minnesota.

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#202537 - 05/27/10 12:38 PM Re: Can you rely on the radio? [Re: Eugene]
Doug_SE_MI Offline
Newbie

Registered: 01/05/08
Posts: 35
Loc: Michigan
Everyone should have a NOAA Weather Radio in their home, vehicles and emergency kits.

http://www.weather.gov/nwr/allhazard.htm


NWR broadcasts warnings and post-event information for all types of hazards: weather (e.g., tornadoes, floods), natural (e.g., earthquakes, forest fires and volcanic activity), technological (e.g., chemical releases, oil spills, nuclear power plant emergencies, etc.), and national emergencies (e.g., terrorist attacks). Working with other Federal agencies and the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Emergency Alert System (EAS), NWR is an all-hazards radio network, making it the most comprehensive weather and emergency information available to the public.

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