Oregon Wireless Interoperability Network

Kim Search Comments and discussion – click here

This effort is very interesting. I’m highlighting notes from a Jeff Barnard A.P. article:

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski wants the state to explore ways of helping local agencies better communicate and coordinate during rescue efforts.

The governor also is concerned that county sheriff’s departments, which are responsible for conducting search and rescue operations in Oregon, may not be funded adequately, spokeswoman Anna Richter-Taylor said.

“Maybe what we need to do is to look a little bit broader and to see if there’s a different relationship, a partnership between the state and the counties, so that we can help the counties in some of these operations,” Kulongoski told Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Kulongoski’s spokeswoman said the governor wanted to review after-incident reports to figure out where the state can better support efforts on the ground by the local communities.

“Whether it is communications, helping establish a system of centralized communications, or around equipment, the state wants to do everything it can to be supportive,” she said from Salem.

Kulongoski’s budget for 2007 includes $561 million to establish the Oregon Wireless Interoperability Network, Richter-Taylor said.The money would go toward building 54 communications towers around the state to allow first-responders from state, local and federal agencies involved in emergency operations to talk to each other.

Related:   http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,69234-0.html

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10 thoughts on “Oregon Wireless Interoperability Network

  1. Follow-up to above RG news article:

    Learn from Kim search
    A Register-Guard Editorial
    Published: Wednesday, December 27, 2006

    Gov. Ted Kulongoski has asked for a review of the search for a missing family in the rugged territory west of Grants Pass. It’s likely that such a review would turn up ideas for improving search-and-rescue missions, most of them requiring more money and better coordination. The review is worthwhile, but two things should be borne in mind: Oregon’s current methods of conducting search-and-rescue missions are usually effective, and no method can guarantee success every time.

    Kulongoski’s review is prompted by the search for a San Francisco family earlier this month. Searchers using a privately chartered helicopter found Kati Kim and the couple’s two daughters in their car, stuck on a snowy logging road they’d mistakenly thought was a paved route to Gold Beach. James Kim, who had left his family to look for help, was found dead of hypothermia two days later. It’s possible that the father could have been found in time if searchers had better communication, better equipment and better coordination.

    Search-and-rescue operations are usually led by counties, and often rely heavily on volunteers. Some counties are well supplied with equipment and manpower, while others have almost none. Searches that cover more than one county can become complicated – the Oregon State Police took control of the Kim search for that reason. Even then, coordinating the efforts of county sheriffs’ departments, federal land management agencies and private groups, each with its own gear, procedures and areas of expertise, is never simple.

    Yet in most cases, missing people are found. In 2005, The Oregonian reports, there were 835 searches, and 49 fatalities – in 16 out of 17 cases, the missing person or party comes home alive. The fatalities usually involve accidents that occurred before searches began. Cases like that of James Kim, whose life could have been saved if he had been found earlier, are rare. Even so, the agencies involved in searches should strive to improve the odds still further.

    Oregon is a big state – big enough to have plenty of places for people to get lost. Many of those places are unforgiving, with rough terrain, severe weather and no people for miles around. It’s important to find out how the Kim story could have had a happier ending. But even the best-equipped, best-planned, best-coordinated search-and-rescue missions will occasionally end in disappointment.

  2. And also (slightly OT) from RG on 12-27-06:

    The Mount Hood tragedy was far from the typical rescue operation. Many are small and quickly resolved.

    “The vast majority of people who get lost or hurt and need help are not mountain climbers,” Shimanski said. They are hikers, people out for a long day trek or perhaps an overnight camping trip.

    “So really, if you’re talking about requiring people to carry cell phones or personal locator beacons, then you really shouldn’t be talking just about the thousands of climbers on big peaks,” he said. “You should be talking about the hundreds of thousands of people who go hiking.”

  3. Allen – thanks for sending this initial article and the follow up. I was hoping to find the stat you cite here of SAR success ratio 16/17. Much better than I would have thought.

    Glenn – huge budget though I’m confused about the huge tower cost. With a budget like this couldn’t you just use satellite phones and save huge on this cost?

  4. We would have to understand what the cost elements are. They might have quite a large budget for delivering electricty to the locations…not sure.

    I would think the information is public somewhere.

    Problem with satellite phones is ongoing cost…and theft of devices.

  5. Glenn I bet this does include a lot of power infrastructure which appears to be the big problem in remote locations. Over at the Kim Search discussion one of the folks was also pointing out how vandalism is a major problem in some of their areas.

  6. Joe,
    Since you asked about the source of the success ratio stat (Oregon Emergency Management), here is that reference in the Oregonian:


    (page 3 online….)

    Communication gaps

    When searches cover multiple counties, gaps in communication can be crucial. The Oregon State Police took control of the Kim search for that reason. Yet, the state police has no resources dedicated to search and rescue. Even its planes lack heat-sensing radar that can locate lost people in the woods at night.

    Sheriffs say the county-based system works well most of the time. In 2005, Oregon’s busiest year on record, there were about 835 search and rescue missions, with about 49 fatalities, according to data kept by Oregon Emergency Management.

    The weakness in the county system is variability. Some counties, like Hood River, Lane and Jackson, have extensive search and rescue capabilities. Other, less-populated counties rely on a handful of volunteers operating on razor-thin budgets.

    In the case of James Kim, Josephine County had no helicopter of its own. A private chopper pilot who was not part of the official search eventually found Kati Kim and the children, acting on a hunch about their location.

    The state office, with a budget of less than $100,000, plays a limited role, said George Kleinbaum, state search and rescue coordinator. His main function is to call the Oregon National Guard when needed.

    “Something like having state oversight is going to have to involve more people,” Kleinbaum said.

    (end reference)

    BTW, I believe that the area for the Kim search was relatively close to the border of Curry County, which follows the terrain over Bear Camp Summit. I’m not sure how the SAR resources of that County would have compared to Josephine, if there had been a different jurisdiction involved.

  7. Allen you are right about Curry, in fact I think the car was under 5 miles from the Curry County line. I think Curry had gone up “their side” of Bear Camp plus some Chopper time up and over to Agness.

    I remember thinking it was odd when the Curry sheriff practically insisted they’d not made it into his county and therefore they would search no more. Technically I think he was right, but they were sure close.

  8. Virginia Sets Example for Communication Readiness


    NPR Morning Edition, Audio report, January 3, 2007

    “The Department of Homeland Security issues a report on how well U.S. cities are prepared to communicate during a disaster. In past disasters, communications have been difficult for emergency responders. Virginia has set up a statewide plan that many consider one of the best.”

    Interviewed: Chris Essid, who coordinates interoperability network and emergency preparedness for Virginia.

  9. From Oregon Public Broadcasting radio newscast, germane to the importance of transmissions in the recent Kim and Mt. Hood searches:


    Maritime Technology Pinpoints Distress Calls
    By Tom Banse

    OLYMPIA, WA 2007-01-08 The Coast Guard is upgrading its radio technology to sort out distress calls. All too commonly, “Mayday” broadcasts contain insufficient or wrong information about where a sinking boat is.


    Sound: “Mayday, mayday, mayday!”

    That call came last summer from three tuna fishermen on a boat somewhere off Oregon.

    Sound: “This is Coast Guard Station Astoria. What’s your position, over?”

    Boater: “Umm, I’m approximately 45 miles offshore. We’re a white boat…”

    A little white boat in a vast band of ocean…the Coast Guard didn’t have much to work with.

    Sound: “We’re going down fast! Gotta get out of cabin…”

    It took seven hours to find the survivors. The three sportsmen were clinging to an ice chest.

    Coast Guard spokeswoman Judy Silverstein says brand new receiver upgrades will make the job much easier. With as little as “two seconds of transmission” dispatchers can now fix a location.

    The improved antennas and receivers are up for most of Washington’s waters. Oregon comes next.

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