Camano Island now will be safer in a disaster situation. Island County Department of Emergency Management (DEM) has stationed a mobile emergency communications trailer on Camano Island.

The multi-use trailer provides communications capability for the fire department and other Island County agencies, as well as the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, according to Sue Ryan, Stanwood Camano Amateur Radio Club president.

The public can stop by to check out the trailer during Amateur Radio Field Day on June 22 at Tyee Farms (see below), the Mabana Fire Station Open House on June 29 or the Terry’s Corner Fire Station Open House on Sept. 14.

As the only communications trailer for the county, Ryan said it will be shared with Whidbey Island.

The trailer is 28-feet long, fully self-contained and stocked with a VHF/UHF dual band radio, HF radio, CEMNET radio and antennas, along with a Packet and Winlink computer with VHF/UHF radio.

Amateur Radio ARES volunteers and county officials will staff the unit, which can be moved anywhere it is needed. Ryan said its generator can be set up in minutes to provide power under any conditions.

For now, the trailer will be used for weekly emergency communications drills and community events such as Amateur Radio Field Day, National Night Out and Camano Community Center Car Show, among other events.

During any emergency, such as the frigid February conditions that limited travel on Camano, communications are extremely important to everyone on the island.

“This trailer will ensure information about conditions here on Camano can get to the DEM immediately and information about the situation will get back to Camano Island, so we can better handle the situation,” Ryan said. “When all else fails, amateur radio won’t!”

For more information, contact Don Thompson at

Amateur Radio Field Day

Amateur radio operators who live and work in the Stanwood Camano area will show off their skills during the national Amateur Radio Field Day on Saturday,

June 22, at Tyee Farms, 3325 S. East Camano Drive, Camano Island.

In a disaster, electrical power likely won’t be available, according to Sue Ryan, Stanwood Camano Amateur Radio Club president. So, for this event, all radios will be powered by generator, batteries or other alternative power (solar), as operators put disaster protocols into practice.

Anyone curious about amateur radio, but not licensed or recently licensed, can give it a try. Take the opportunity with a coach to contact other operators using the radio starting at 11 a.m. Club members will answer questions about amateur radio and how to get a license. An educational program will be offered at 2 p.m.  

Amateur radio operators provide a critical public service for our community, Ryan said. They are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and trained in the art and science of radio communication and basic electronics theory. SCARC also owns and maintains its own communications equipment. 

During times of disaster, AR operators can provide reliable communications when normal infrastructure is offline or when fire department and police communications are overloaded.

Ryan said this public service is easily extended during non-emergency civic events, such as communications for parades, marathons and street festivals.  

“Field Day is our chance to show the science, service and skill we offer to our community,” Ryan said. “We would love to show you our capabilities in person.” 

Find more information about Field Day and the club online at or by email to

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