Shelter Operator Information

CQ, CQ, CQ, Calling all Shelter Operators, CQ, CQ, CQ.


Shelter radio operators are needed for different events, mostly weather related.  Our main concern is hurricane season.  Polk County is one of the primary evacuation sites for both the east and west coast.  During Hurricane Charlie in 2004 33 pre-impact shelters were opened.


Tornado season can also bring a need for shelters depending on the size of the storm and the path that it takes.


While Polk County has a very robust county wide radio system it will overload during a major incident and could fail at various levels.  Our ability to handle even 5-10% of radio traffic will be a major help during these events.


What do you need to be a shelter operator?

1)  The time to train and make sure your equipment works.

2)  The time to actually deploy to a shelter.  Pre storm during a hurricane could mean being at the shelter hours before it hits to hours afterward depending on damage, county radio system integrity, etc.  You have to be at the shelter prior to the storms arrival since travel soon becomes to dangerous as the storm approaches.

What equipment do you need?

1)  A dual band radio (VHF-UHF) with the Polk ARES frequencies installed, at a minimum.

2)  Power supply

3) Battery back up power

4) Dual band antenna

5) Coax

6)  Portable mast of some sort

7)  Headphones (optional but probably needed if in a noisy area)

8) Personal items, food, water, medicine, hygiene items, etc.

Polk County Emergency Management has a limited supply of “go-kits” for use also.


Here are some pictures of my go-kit.  There is no right or wrong way to build a kit.  This is just one example.



If you are interested in being a shelter operator, or need more information, please send me an email to


Thank you in advance for your commitment to Polk ARES and your community


Mike Green

Assistant Emergency Coordinator – Shelter Operations