will be ready
By dave benjamin
MANALAPAN — An annual test of the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) equipment which supports the township’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) was recently completed.
"We’re testing our ability to communicate within the state and within the country," said Skip Gracon, who uses the call letters K3GNZ. "We do this generally once a year to make sure all the equipment works. We want to be sure that if there is an emergency in the township we can provide the supplemental radio communications."
Gracon said several tests were made on June 22, including tests for voice communications and tests to check the ability to communicate using computers or data over radio using radio teletype.
Participants in the operations group include Patrick Reagan, Walt Kapica, Marian Gracon, Jean Krohn, Lance Andrew, Ollie Eavener, Richard Bilon, and Matthew Gracon, all licensed amateur radio operators.
Gracon noted that Manalapan Police Chief John McCormack is the head of the municipality’s OEM. Capt. Louis Moreto is the first assistant coordinator. Sgt. Timothy Kirkland and Sgt. Kenneth Gibson are assistant coordinators.
"This is very important to us," McCormack said. "In case of an emergency we can set up communications and with Skip and his gang here, it allows us the opportunity to keep and maintain communications with all of our emergency services and a lot of other people, too."
McCormack explained that RACES provides a valuable service for the OEM system and for the township.
The type of emergency that occurred would determine where calls would be directed, Kirkland noted.
"Depending upon the emergency we would (need to) determine who to call," the sergeant said. "For instance, we had the tornado in May 2001. We had the van out there which enabled us to have better communications at the site."
McCormack noted that the communications exercise is run at least once, sometimes twice, yearly.
"This is one of the important ones (exercises), because it gives us OEM certification and units that we need for accreditation with the Monmouth County OEM coordinator," the chief said. "We’re always very glad when Skip and his whole crew come down here to assist us with this."
Gracon said the test operation began at 11 a.m. and ran until 6 p.m.