In The Shadows of SATERN, Salvation Army Volunteers Ensure Safety

Lines of communications were virtually nonexistent following the storms throughout the tornado stricken cities of the central United States, including Joplin, MO. This problem is expected and occurs in major disasters as cell towers are knocked down and power is lost.

However, amazing volunteers of The Salvation Army who run the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN), also known as “shadows,” helped Salvation Army personnel establish communications during relief efforts in Joplin. Relief efforts would not be the same without their assistance, and we would like to take the time to thank SATERN volunteers, like Brian Short:

HAM radio operator and “shadow,” Brian Short, along with other Salvation Army volunteers saw the aftermath of the tornado in Joplin as an opportunity to provide assistance during relief efforts. Brian and the volunteers set up a network of HAM radio connections to utilize and ensure the safety of people under The Salvation Army’s watch. SATERN enabled Salvation Army personnel to communicate on nearly every frequency available, even at long distances, utilizing HF & VHF frequencies as officers and volunteers worked to meet the needs of Joplin residents.

SATERN volunteers establishing communication in Joplin, MO.

At the same time, SATERN volunteers like Short ride with Salvation Army mobile canteens and key personnel to shadow Salvation Army emergency response teams and act as a network of ever-present problem solvers. The group ensures that The Salvation Army’s response team’s whereabouts are always known and that they are able to keep in communications at all times.

“When we get involved, it creates what I like to call a ‘conference bridge effect,’” Short stated. “Everyone knows where everyone else is at all times, and people are able to overhear the needs of other people. Then, those people can chime in and help us solve logistical issues by thinking up solutions or providing information we wouldn’t have had access to.”

Brian Short in Joplin, MO.

Over the first few days, Short and other volunteers assisted in establishing communications that allowed The Salvation Army to provide rescue support, food, hydration and medical assistance to storm survivors and emergency responders.