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Free Radios Available to Calabasas Residents to Communicate During Emergencies

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Raging fire on the hillside. Power outage. Terrified kids.

And no cell service.

How to call? What to do? Where to go?

That was exactly the scenario for many Calabasas residents during the Woolsey Fire, especially in areas where cell service is spotty – or non-existent.

Citizens were evacuated – but many only received word from the Sheriff’s Department going door to door – and didn’t know when it was safe to come back.

In response to the Woolsey Fire, two local residents banded together to come up with a way to help all 8,400 homes in Calabasas prepare for an emergency.

Brian Cameron and Norm Goodkin founded EPIC-FSC, (Emergency Preparedness in Calabasas) a non-profit organization to help locals mitigate risks during an emergency – primarily through the use of hand-held amateur  radios.

“While we watched flying embers threaten our neighborhoods during the Woolsey Fire, we realized that natural disasters affect our entire community,” explained EPIC-FSC President Cameron. “That’s when we knew we had to join together and take the necessary measures to harden our homes.” 

They partnered with the City of Calabasas to distribute these radios free of charge to any Calabasas resident. The low-power radio will communicate vital information  to residents during a natural disaster. The information will be vetted by the City, the fire and sheriff departments, unlike inflammatory news or incorrect information that is often posted on social media during such an event.

The EPIC system is part of the City of Calabasas’ Emergency Response Center and linked to the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station as well. 

The EPIC team will receive information and relay it to residents on a specific channel on the radio. It will also broadcast the local KNX News Radio channel during an emergency.

Residents can communicate to neighbors or other family members who also have radios. “Anyone you can see, you can talk to,” said Goodkin.

The EPIC all-volunteer team has tested their radio system in all parts of Calabasas – even ranging as far as Malibu and Topanga to check reception. EPIC also connects to L.A. County’s Genasys Protect system, a platform that helps law enforcement, fire service, and the City create and maintain evacuation plans based on local zones.

The private-public partnership brings together Goodkin, who teaches courses in amateur radio licensing and is a senior member of the Sheriff’s Disaster Communications Service,  Cameron, who has served on the City’s Public Safety Commission since 2016, Michael Dyer, a former Fire Chief who now serves as the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Director for the City, and Michael Russo, former President of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers & Advisors who is now Communications Director for the City of Calabasas.

Funding for EPIC came  initially from the City, who gave the group $25,000 to set up the non-profit. Cal Fire donated another $72,000, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy gave $25,000 and an amateur radio group gave $14,000 to see how to send information from a computer to a radio and back to a computer.

The EPIC system comple-ments the City’s emergency communications, which include reverse 911 calls, Twitter and Facebook postings.  “EPIC is to be an outreach and communications platform so we don’t have to hear, ‘Why wasn’t I told what to do?’ like we heard after Woolsey,” said Dyer.

For more information on the EPIC system and to register to receive a free radio, visit epic-fsc.com or contact Chief Dyer at the City at (818) 224-1600.


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