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Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

Readiness. Response. Recovery.

Phone: 503-823-4375

Fax: 503-823-3903

TDD: 503-823-3947

PBEM unveils communication “beacons,” announces partnership with OPB radio

Press release issued by PBEM on December 11, 2012.

PBEM is pleased to announce two separate advancements in post-disaster communication. First, the Bureau has identified 48 new Basic Earthquake Emergency Communication Node (BEECN) sites throughout the city.

BEECNs (pronounced “beacons”) are places to go for emergency assistance and information during a post-earthquake communications blackout. BEECNs are intended for use when phones and email aren’t working and when residents in dire need of help are unable to remain safe at home. Workers at BEECN sites will use radios to relay calls for help to first responders.

“Communication is critical in the hours after an earthquake. It’s how lives are saved and how precious emergency resources are managed smartly. Radios are a great way to bridge the communication gap when phones are down,” said PBEM Director Carmen Merlo. “And with 48 sites carefully chosen across the city, emergency help is not far away.”

A map of BEECNs is now arriving in the mailboxes of all Portland residents. The list of BEECNs may change over time. PBEM’s goal is to have each of these temporary nodes activated under a clearly marked red and white shelter within 24 hours of an earthquake, if needed. The Bureau is now acquiring equipment for the BEECN network and staffing it with city employees, Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) members and other volunteers.

In a separate action, Portland City Council on Wednesday will consider approving an agreement with OPB. Under this agreement, OPB will broadcast emergency alert messages directly from the Mayor of Portland during a major emergency.

"We're pleased to play a role in this team effort to ensure information reaches our community in the event of an emergency," said Morgan Holm, OPB's Vice President, News.

Visit for more information about BEECNs and to find a site near you.