My leadership project was done in conjunction with my volunteer effort with the local chapter of the Red Cross. I have been a Red Cross volunteer for almost five years and work in the DST group. This is the group which manages the IT and communication for the Red Cross. As one of the more technical members of the team, I was asked to lead an effort for building out a new communication system for the King/Snohomish county area. The DST leadership had put together a grant proposal two years ago for the system and when it was finally funded in late 2015, they ask me to take over implementing it.

 

Leading the project covered everything from working with the vendors supplying the parts of the system, to overseeing the work parties for the actual installation. I needed to work with site management for where the system was going to be installed on Cougar Mountain, since the system needed to meet the same requirements as the commercial systems installed there. I also needed to contract with the professional tower / antenna installation company to install the antennas for the system on the 250-foot tower.

 

The project took about ten months from when the equipment finally started to be delivered, until we were able to turn the system on in late February. Besides spending several Saturday’s at the Red Cross chapter building the system, there were three work parties on Cougar Mountain to actually install the system. The picture below is from the visit where we actually got the rack of radio equipment installed.

 

With the new system, the Red Cross teams in the area will be able to communicate with the Seattle chapter (headquarters for King county) anywhere from the Canadian border, west of the mountains and south of Tacoma. The system is made up a ‘remote base’ located on Cougar Mountain which is connected to a high-power transmitter and very good antenna system. There is a UHF repeater which connects the Seattle chapter, which is located in south Seattle, with the system on Cougar Mountain.

 

While professionally I manage technical projects for Amazon that encompass a half dozen or more teams, this effort let me grow my understanding of commercial radio systems and leading non-technical people on a very technical project. Part of each work party turned into a teach session, as I would explain what we were doing and why it was necessary. I am really proud of how it came together and how much it will help during the next large scale event in our area. The remote base solution eliminates a major limitation of the Seattle chapter, since it is in such a power location or RF communication.

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