THE NORTH SHORE EMERGENCY ASSOCIATION
VOLUNTEER PUBLIC SERVICE THROUGH TWO-WAY RADIO
OUR HISTORY AND CURRENT ACTIVITIES
Soon there more than a dozen CB base stations and as many mobile units
maintaining a 24 hour watch on the then very popular 27.065 MHz CB emergency
channel. Not only were hundreds of routine calls for assistance handled
by NSEA participating radio stations in the Chicago north/northwest
metropolitan area every year but a number of lives were saved as well.
Citizens' Band: The beginning.
The North Shore Emergency Association (N.S.E.A.) was founded
in 1966 by a small group of CB radio operators interested in promoting
public service through the use of their personal two-way radios. The group's
purpose was to create a network of qualified people to coordinate individual
public service radio volunteers to: A) Provide 24 hour, around-the-clock
monitoring of CB Channel 9 to answer emergency and traveler's assistance
calls; B) Provide two-way radio communications assistance at pre planned
events ("Projects"), such as parades, bike/walk-a-thons, golf tournaments,
carnivals, holiday safety patrols, etc.; and C) Provide two-way radio communications
assistance in emergency/disaster situations, such as "Operation Skywarn"
tornado spotting, American Red Cross disaster communications, flash flooding,
Class A Citizens' Radio/General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)
As CB channels became more and more congested in the late 60's and early
70's, NSEA members turned to the more sophisticated Class A Citizens'
Radio Service in the UHF. band. This service was the first (original)
"CB", but, because it was located in the U.H.F. spectrum, equipment was
substantially more expensive and very few individual and personal users
were then making use of this band. By working together as a group, NSEA.
members were able to buy and set up a U.H.F. Class A "Repeater" (mobile
The Class A (G.M.R.S.) repeater brought high quality FM type communications
to members as a highly reliable communications means over a substantial
operating area. Not only are much smaller antennas required, but small,
hand carried portable units are much more feasible. With the repeater a
hand held is now as effective as a full fledged mobile. The higher UHF
frequencies are much less prone to "skip" type interference, and the F.M.
audio is nearly immune from weather related interference.
NSEA members first began moving to the Class A UHF service
in 1969 (KAA 7948), and the NSEA repeater went into service at the beginning of
1971 (KAA 8142). The giant leap from 27 MHz Class D to 462 MHz Class A
(G.M.R.S.) was the single most important advance in the history of our
organization, and this communications medium remains the cornerstone of
our operations today. It is easier than ever to obtain/renew a GMRS
license online from the US Federal Communications Commission. Just go to
www.fcc.gov and you can do it all there.
And, more recently (2022), the cost of a license has been significantly
cut to only $35.
The UHF Repeater
In 1971, when NSEA members decided to commit to buying and installing
a repeater system, very few radio systems in the Class A band were being
utilized for personal messages. Due to the high cost of equipment and the
necessity to obtain a favorable (height above ground) antenna site for
a repeater, almost all of the systems then were being operated by businesses.
In January NSEA placed the first cooperatively licensed all personal
use Class A repeater in the United States in service on the top of a building
at Willow and Waukegan Roads, in Northfield, Illinois.
The repeater receives signals from NSEA mobile and portable units
in the field transmitting on 467.675 MHz (the "input" frequency), and and
simultaneously re-transmits these signals (at full power from the higher
repeater antenna) on 462.675 MHz (the "output" frequency). All NSEA
units actually listen to and receive these re-transmitted signals from
the repeater station.
Repeater operation gave the group the ability to communicate reliably
over a wide area in north/northwest metropolitan Chicago for a new cadre
of volunteer and public service functions. In 1972 the repeater was moved
to yet a more advantageous site on the top of Lutheran General Hospital,
and the Park Ridge site continues to be a great regional communications
resource. One of the first major projects in which the repeater played
a pivotal role was the 1972 Western Open Golf Tournament, held at Sunset
Ridge Country Club between Northbrook and Northfield. NSEA volunteers
provided extensive communications assistance to the tournament officials
over several days, including both on-course as well as off-course command
and control functions.
NSEA members were instrumental in bringing UHF technology
to other public service groups in CB, especially R.E.A.C.T. (Radio Emergency
Associated Citizens Teams). Beginning in 1976 key NSEA members spent extensive
time meeting with REACT
teams in more than a dozen-and-a-half different states, bringing a portable
repeater, together with a number of mobile and portable units for field
demonstrations. NSEA members were able to obtain a temporary/unspecified
license for the REACT national headquarters, which was utilized by
the various teams around the country for the NSEA demonstrations.
As a result, over 200 personal use repeater systems
(all on the same frequency) were set up throughout the United States. In recognition
of this trend of explosive growth the Federal Communications Commission
formally recognized 462/467.675 MHz as the national emergency and traveler's
assistance channel in the then Part 95A Rules and Regulations. NSEA maintains
a firm commitment to providing the maximum accessibility to our repeater
for traveling "transient" operators from out of town. Our repeater is now
tone access with 141.3 Hz (4A) (the nationally recognized "travel tone") for assistance
to transient users.
Additional major leaps, following the original Park Ridge GMRS Heritage
Repeater, have been addition of two new
GMRS repeaters operating on GMRS
channels 462.650 MHz and 462.700 MHz. These systems
additinal two-way radio communications coverage in northeastern Illinois
facilitating providing public service in accordance the our original mission.
Additional UHF Repeaters
Use of personal two-way radio to assist the National Weather Service
in early detection of tornados and other severe weather in the Chicago
area goes back to the very first days of CB radio in the late 1950's. At
one time in the mid 1960's the Weather Auxiliary Reporting Network (W.A.R.N.)
had over 600 participating CB stations in three states. NSEA was a
participating organization in this CB network, and has continued its participation
in the current Weather Bureau "Operation Skywarn" program on U.H.F. A direct
telephone link was established to the weather service which enabled our
trained spotters to report sightings using the repeater. NSEA has in the past
sponsored training seminars and lectures by N.O.A.A. personnel for members and
other interested radio operators. Today we encourage all public spirited GMRS
operators to take the Weather Bureau torodao spotter training and we post links to
do so from time to time on our website.
"Operation Skywarn" Severe Weather Spotting
Key NSEA members were also responsible for involving the Chicago
amateur radio community in Skywarn as well. One such member, Rich Casey
(also a licensed amateur radio operator, WA9LRI at that time), while
serving simultaneously as a board member of NSEA and also as president
of the Chicago FM Club (Ham), drew on his NSEA experience to promote
Skywarn participation by area amateur radio operators as well. Today
hundreds of such amateur radio operators also give generously of their
time and equipment to increase the advance warning of severe weather
in the Chicago area. Skywarn continues to be a vital part of area
tornado detection and warning today, and NSEA continues to coordinate
closely with the Radio Amateur (Ham) community in this vutal volunteer
public service function.
Project Communications (Pre-Planned)
From the very beginning it was apparent that NSEA had much to offer
other organizations such as the March of Dimes, the Diabetes Foundation,
local police departments (Kenilworth and Winnetka), and Chicago Marathon
doctor and ambulance operatrions, to name a few. We have provided trained
radio operators to coordinate bike-a-thons, walk-a-thons, holiday safety
patrols, marathon and other races, large parades and other events. Our group
has become a recognized authority in volunteer GMRS radio command and control
of event logistics, coordination, and even planning. See our NSEA GUIDE
TO RADIO PROCEDURE link on our Home Page.
Projects are now our single most active communications and logistics efforts.
More reent projects include: the Evanston
Fourth of July Association parade and fireworks celebration, and
various Walks and Bike-A-Thons for the
Sclerosis Society involving thousands of participants. Our largest single
projects have been two-day long "MS Tour de Farms" 150 K bike
rides in the DeKalb County, Illinois area. We set up temporary repeaters
on GMRS channel .650 for the weekends to cover the large area that
encompassed three Illinois counties each year.
Other Emergency Activities (Non Pre-Planned)
Many N.S.E.A. members have been involved in Red Cross Disaster services,
Civil Defense (E.S.D.A.), EMA and other municipal assistance groups. This led
to N.S.E.A. helping out these folks in times of emergency or when disaster
struck. For many years we worked with the
American Red Cross of Greater
Chicago. N.S.E.A. members deployed for communications in damage
assessment of fires, floods and tornados. We set up links between
shelters, vehicles, command centers - where ever needed. Some NSEA members have also
sereved as communications volunteers with the
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.
NSEA continues to maintain readiness to respond to
communications needs in times of emergency or disaster as part of
our original purpose of promoting pubic service through personal
Beginning in the later 1960's with CB, NSEA has conducted weekly radio
nets to keep members in touch with one another, to make announcements,
to maintain equipment readiness, and to insure the integrity of the communications
package as a whole. These weekly nets continue today on the 462.675 MHz
Heritage GMRS repeater
as well as our other 2 GRMS systems on 462.650 MHz and 462.700 MHz. All
licensed GMRS operators are welcome and invited to participate. We enjoy
participation from other groups and individual operators. The nets can be
heard on each Sunday evening starting at 7:00 P.M. Central Time. More
information at: THE NSEA WEEKLY RADIO NET link on our Home Page.
Weekly Radio Nets
As a rule, NSEA meetings are held every two months, and
election of a board of directors once a year in late summer.
Meetings are usually held at 7:30 P.M. weeknights in a local
eatery or meeting room. Guests are welcome and more detailed
information will be posted on this web site.
This website, www.nsea.com
established starting with the new millennium. We want to spread the
word about what NSEA is and does. We hope you enjoyed your visit,
learned more about us and GET INVOLVED!
an Online Information Form to request permission to utilize the
NSEA affilaited GMRS repeaters for your 2-way radio personal
communications and/or start the process to join our association.
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