THE NORTH SHORE EMERGENCY ASSOCIATION
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 CH 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.
Though CB is no longer a primary focus for NSEA. today, many members
still monitor CB channel 9 from their cars and homes.
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)
While 27 MHz Class D CB continued to be an important part of the operation,
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 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 and renew a GMRS
license. Just go to www.fcc.gov and you can do
it all there.
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 our frequency as the national emergency and traveler's
assistance channel in the 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) being the tone .
Another major leap following the original Park Ridge Repeater was the
addition of two new super-wide area coverage GMRS repeaters operating
on 462.650 MHz and 462.700 MHz. These powerhouse systems are located in
downtown Chicago and provide two-way radio communications coverage in
northeastern Illinois, northwest Indiana, southeastern Wisconsin and southwestern
Michigan. Considered to be the most effective G.M.R.S. repeaters
in the Midwest, these repeaters are a great asset for the group.
The Downtown 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 sponsored
training seminars and lectures by N.O.A.A. personnel for members and other
interested radio operators, and continues to assure that all interested
members have access to this training. Visit Current
Activities for training sessions
"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), while serving simultaneously
as a board member of NSEA and also as president of the Chicago FM Club,
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 many NSEA
members continue as active trained spotters.
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 the Chicago Marathon,
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 radio command
and control of event logistics, coordination, and even planning.
Projects are now our single most active communications and logistics
efforts. Some current projects include: the Evanston
Fourth of July Association parade and fireworks celebration, and various
Walks and Bike-A-Thons for the National
Multiple Sclerosis Society involving thousands of participants. Our largest
single project is the two-day long "MS Tour de Farms" 150 K bike ride in the
DeKalb County area. We setup a temporary repeater on .650 for the weekend to
cover the large area that encompasses three counties. Please
visit our Activities
page for current information.
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. The longest relationship has been with the American
Red Cross of Greater Chicago. N.S.E.A. has been deployed for communications
in damage assessment of fires, floods and tornados. We have set up links
between shelters, vehicles, command centers - where ever needed. We stand
ready today to continue to participate in disaster drills and the real
thing at a moment's notice. Recently some members have become involved
in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Coast Guard Station Wilmette will soon have no full time Coast Guard personnel
for a significant part of the year, and the station will be entirely run
(including communications) by the Auxiliary.
Beginning some 35 years ago 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 both 462.675 MHz
and the Shadow Traffic repeater on 450.2875 MHz. We enjoy participation from several other
groups and individual operators. The nets can be heard on each Sunday evening
at 7:00 P.M. All licensed radio operators are invited to check into net.
Weekly Radio Nets
NSEA use of common carrier radio paging dates back to 1970. Today
we utilize the latest technology with alpha-numeric pagers, responding
to both individual messages as well as pages to the entire group simultaneously.
With a special public service volunteer group rate, we are able to offer
message receivers to members at a greatly reduced price. In addition to
personal convenience, these pagers are of inestimable value in times of
emergency or disaster. Numeric messages can be sent from any touch-tone®
phone, and alpha-numeric messages can be sent by phone (800 number) through
an operator, by computer over the internet or through a modem directly to the
paging terminal. Each pager has it's own number for individual use as well as a
group call for reaching all members simultaneously.
State of the Art Paging & Messaging
As a rule, NSEA meetings are held every few months, and election
of a board of directors once a year in July. Meetings are usually held
at 7:30 P.M. weeknights in a local eatery or meeting room. Guests are welcome
and meeting information will be posted here on this web site. Activities
This website, www.nsea.com was established was 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! Submit
an Online Membership Information Form.
Bio-David Sniader, Co-Executive Director Dave Sniader Bio
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