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DHS news release

Jan. 10, 2007

General contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282
Technical contact: Kevin Cradock, 971-673-0565

DHS public health program joins national radio network

A recently installed 30-foot-high antenna on the roof of the Portland State Office Building marks Oregon public health's entry into the world of high-frequency radio communications.

"We have improved our ability to provide vital communications during a public health emergency," said Susan Allan, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., state public health director in the Oregon Department of Human Services. "With this new system, if traditional communication systems go down, we have another way to talk directly with more than 20 Oregon counties and 40 hospitals. We also will be able to maintain contact with our federal emergency partners in Atlanta, Georgia and Washington, D.C."

The DHS Public Health Preparedness Program used $50,000 in federal funding to join the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Public Health Radio Network through a cooperative agreement with the CDC. Under the agreement, DHS received and installed two high-frequency radios, one of which is mobile and can be deployed anywhere in the state.

Allan said the radio system operates on generator power and is capable of secure data transmission. Data capabilities will be added during the next six months. Additional radio capabilities will be added in 2008 to enhance short-range communications with hospitals and counties within 60 miles of the Portland metro area.

Oregon is one of the first Western states to join the CDC network, which includes multiple state health departments across the country, various state emergency operations centers, the CDC, Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations such as the American Red Cross.