The ECC (Emergency Communication Center)
By Bob Jones, W5BJ
Information contained in the following paragraphs explain to the best of my recollection how the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) came about. If anyone else has a different account, please come forward and let's discuss.
The ECC in Garland began in 1967 when there were two amateur radio operators on the Garland city council; Floyd Klee, WA5DFP, and Bob Jordan, WA5VOO - both were very active members in the GARC. I believe that Floyd and Bob's terms overlapped a two-year period between 1967 and 1969. Both realized the need for back up communications in that Garland had no means to communicate outside of the City should primary communications (telephones at that time) be disrupted. Floyd and Bob worked jointly with city manager, Charlie Duckworth, to secure a permanent facility suitable to set up radio communications primarily with Austin. The facility must be easily accessible at all times and must be suitable for housing amateur radio type equipment including antennas and high power transmitters. It was agreed that the City would provide the facility and the GARC would provide the equipment and staffing and would maintain the inside portion. The City would not provide funding of any type.
Until 1978 individuals furnished equipment used in the ECC. The same was true with Field Day. In 1978, the GARC purchased a Kenwood, TS-520, and, except for a few wire antennas, this was the first piece of equipment dedicated to the ECC. Around 1979, the 75-foot utility pole (still in place) was installed in front of the ECC primarily for the GARC 2 meter repeater antenna and for HF antennas. Our repeater frequency at that time was 146.775 / 146.175. The repeater was located at the ECC until moved (with a brief stopover at the water tower at Shiloh and Forest Ln.) to its present location at the hospital. It was understood early on that the ECC could be used not only to house emergency communications equipment, but could also be used for training and for regular GARC meetings. Many, many classes have been conducted in this facility through the years. Boll Folstadt, W5KUY; Floyd Jester, KE5ZC; Rick England, WA5KYY; H.C. Pritchard, K5RAC; Jim Hester, K5HTK; and Gene Barnard, W5QPP, were some of the early instructors in the GARC.
Prior to the ECC, monthly GARC meetings were held at various places. For several years we met at the National Guard Armory on Glenbrook. Between 1967 and 1976 regular monthly meetings were held in the ECC. In 1977 we outgrew the ECC and moved our regular meetings to the present location - The Women's Activities Bldg.
Through the years the ECC has seen many types of activities. One of the most memorable was immediately after the Mexico City earthquake. We were able to establish contact with a strong station in Mexico City and over a period of four days, we handled many pieces of health and welfare traffic from Mexico City to various points in the USA. GTE (as it was then) installed a temporary telephone line to the ECC and all calls were made at no charge. A young, Spanish speaking, lady worked with us throughout the time as our communicator and interpreter.
Through the years, the ECC has proven to be a valuable asset to the GARC and Garland RACES. In turn, the City depends on us to provide back up communications during times of emergencies. Therefore, it is incumbent on us as GARC and Garland RACES members to maintain the ECC in a serviceable and presentable condition at all times. We are very fortunate to have a very positive relationship with the city we serve.
Garland RACES/ARES Informaton - 4/28/2004
Last updated 9.28.2006 Photo added 3/09