As Hurricane Ian was making its way to Tampa, Florida, in late September, the Sheriff’s Tactical Amateur Radio Communications (STARC), W4HSO, was preparing for activation. ARRL member Tony DeAngelo, N2MFT, said STARC was activated on Monday, September 26, and continued operations through Thursday, September 29, 2022.
STARC has amateur radio equipment in five of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) locations, as well as a Homeland Security office. “It’s a great working arrangement with all of the equipment provided for us,” said DeAngelo. “Our volunteers staffed those locations and the remainder worked from their homes.”
Over the course of the 4-day activation, 16 STARC volunteers worked 24 hours a day passing information for aid and assistance through the sheriff’s office using WebEOC, a web-based emergency management information system.
DeAngelo emphasized that STARC is not a club, but a service organization. STARC volunteers are required to undergo an extensive background investigation, including fingerprinting by the HCSO. STARC volunteers are civilians and employees of various Hillsborough County government agencies, Verizon, Tampa Electric, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Tampa Police Department, and other public and private agencies. In the event of a disaster, radio operators provide communications between participating agencies if normal means of communications are lost.
DeAngelo is a retired police officer, and has been a licensed amateur radio operator for 30 years. He will continue to monitor weather information in case another activation is needed.