1941 to 1966

The Queen City Emergency Net, Inc.

A Brief History

P. Stautberg and J.E. Weaver

The terrible flood which struck the Greater Cincinnati area in 1937 caused many people to realize that emergency communications in the area were nearly non-existent and incapable of supplying prompt, efficient and effective support to relief works. After the flood waters had subsided a group of amateur radio operators joined together to form and organization which could correct the communications problem and could ensure adequate emergency radio communications in the event of disaster in Greater Cincinnati. The newly formed emergency communications club was named the Queen City Emergency Net and was incorporated under the laws of the State of Ohio.

The first meeting of the Queen City Emergency Net was held at the home of Richard Herbst, resident Chief of Grounds and Building Maintenance at Longview State Hospital. At this meeting a major step toward the Net’s goal of “Emergency Communications in Any Disaster” was made—the first emergency radio communications plan for the Greater Cincinnati area was formulated. Since then the original emergency plan has been expanded and modified through the Net’s participation in every major disaster in the area so that the current plan is considerably improved over the original one of 1937.

When World War II arrived on the scene the QCEN rallied to the need for emergency communications coordinated with the national War effort. The QCEN joined the War Emergency Radio Service (WERS); the Civil Defense organization; the auxiliary communications group of the Fifth Corps Area Division of Fort Haynes, Columbus, Ohio; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The QCEN was especially capable of assisting these organizations because it had a group of trained operators, many with emergency communications transmitting stations mounted in their automobiles, who could be sent virtually on a moment’s notice to a disaster site. The members’ mobile and portable radio stations in combination with the club’s well equipped base station constituted a highly efficient emergency communications system which could be activated at the flip of a switch.

QCEN affiliation with the Red Cross dates back to 1943. In that year the club members concluded that they most effectively could provide communications if they were associated with a definite organization rather than acting strictly in a free lance fashion.

Accordingly, since the Red Cross is charged by Congressional action with caring for disaster victims in this country, the QCEN selected it as the organization with which affiliation was most desired. Local Red Cross officials with whom the Net had often worked during emergencies, readily agreed that an affiliation between the Chapter and the QCEN was desirable and would benefit victims of future disasters. Much of the success of the QCEN as an emergency communications organization can be traced to the cooperation it has received from the Red Cross. Conversely, much of the success of the Red Cross in providing prompt and efficient disaster relief can be credited to the effective emergency radio communications provided by the Queen City Emergency Net.

Since the end of World War II, the QCEN has participated in many activities. All of these activities afford training under simulated emergency conditions, and many of them have the added benefit of assisting local civic and service organizations in their charitable works. Possibly the one job which the QCEN is most frequently called upon to assist is that of collecting monies or goods during charity “drives” in Greater Cincinnati. Club members regularly assist the following public service activities by providing communications and mobile transmitting stations-collectors for: the Heart Fund, the Boy Scout-Goodwill? Industries—St?. Vincent DePaul? Society Clothing Drive, and the Mothers’ March for Muscular Dystrophy.

In addition to the assistance provided public service agencies, the QCEN participates in a variety of activities which help maintain its preparedness for emergencies. Communications for the annual Sno-Flake? Sports Car Rally held each January are provided by QCEN. Through the assistance of QCEN portable and mobile radio stations the Rally is operated more safely and more efficiently than would be possible under the adverse conditions which have accompanied it in its first two years than would be possible without radio communications.

The QCEN also participates in several emergency communications tests which are conducted each year. During these tests the club members enjoy the fun of competition with other amateur stations, and develop skills and radio equipment which ensure increasingly improved emergency communications capabilities by the QCEN. The annual tests in which the Net participates include the annual Very High Frequency communications test, the Field Day emergency communications test, the Simulated Emergency Test, and the Sweep Stakes contests. Most of the tests are conducted throughout a 24 hour or longer period which serves as a “show down” for operators and equipment.

Under the auspices of the Red Cross, the QCEN radio stations have been designated official emergency communications stations. The club operates two complete radio base stations. One is located in the Red Cross Chapter Building in downtown Cincinnati and the other is located in the New Burlington area of northern Hamilton County.

The first Queen City Emergency Net radio base station was erected in the Red Cross Chapter Building which at that time was located on Burnet Avenue. It was later moved to the old St. Xavier High School building, and upon completion of the current Red Cross Chapter Building, it was moved into a room especially constructed to accommodate an amateur radio station. This station is named in memory of the late Judge Dudley Miller Outcalt and his amateur radio call, W8VVL, was assigned to the station by the Federal Communications Commission in 1945.

A second complete radio base station, an outlying auxiliary station, is named in memory of the late Richard Herbst, one of the founders of the Queen City Emergency Net. His amateur radio call letters, W8VND, were assigned to the station by the Federal Communications Commission in 1952. The station is located on the property of QCEN member Jack H. Thornell who graciously permits the Net to occupy several of the buildings on the property without charge.

In 1964, the most recent major Ohio River flood occurred. Once again the QCEN was ready and able to provide efficient radio communications just as it had during every major flood since 1937. For several days QCEN members in their radio equipped automobiles patrolled critical sections of the Greater Cincinnati area to inform Red Cross officials of the progress of the flood waters. Through this information, the Cincinnati Area Chapter of the American National Red Cross was able to forecast its need for relief shelters, food and clothing, and had them waiting for flood victims as they were forced from their homes.

During the flood of 1964, a QCEN member with his portable transmitting station was sent to Falmouth, Kentucky, to establish a communications link between that community and the Red Cross Chapter Building in Cincinnati. This was the second time within recent years that the QCEN had moved a complete radio station to a Kentucky community during a flood. In the earlier instance several members had accepted the task of establishing communications for Hazard, Kentucky. Soon after communications had been established between Falmouth and Cincinnati during the 1964 flood, the rising flood waters completely isolated the community. For several days the QCEN supplied communications between Falmouth and local and state governmental officials as well as the Red Cross.

There can be no doubt that without an organization such as the QCEN, the victims of the 1964 flood would not have received assistance as promptly and as efficiently as was provided through the cooperation of the Red Cross and the Net.

In addition to major, widespread disaster the QCEN assists in localized disaster and pending emergencies. In two recent instances the Red Cross realized a need for experienced communicators to handle communications between the Red Cross commercial FM equipment in the Chapter Building and the Red Cross radio equipped automobiles. QCEN members rose to the occasion and accomplished the task with ease and efficiency by supplying communicators during the recent airliner crash in northern Kentucky and during the Ohio River flood alert of 1966. During relief operations following the airliner crash communications were established between the Chapter Building, the crash scene, and the temporary relief facilities established at the Greater Cincinnati Airport. During the flood alert of 1966 QCEN members operated Red Cross equipment to follow the progress of the flood from farther up the river, and at the same time, the QCEN was on ready alert to mobilize in the event that major flooding occurred in this area. Fortunately it was not necessary to mobilize the Net since major flooding did not occur.

The Queen City Emergency Net can count among its less routine assignments the Net’s contribution to the building of the Millcreek Barrier Dam. After assisting during the flood in March, 1945, the Net was requested to supply communications to assist the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard in building the Dam. The job was accomplished in the typical QCEN “can do” fashion. One member became so engrossed in the task that in order to obtain the best location for communications he positioned his radio equipped automobile on top of one of the sand dunes being built during the project. During the course of the operation the car began to sink into the dune and had to be towed off it.

The history of the Queen City Emergency Net is filled with accomplishments of which the Net is proud. Whether lives have been saved through the use of emergency radio communications provided by the QCEN we do not know; however, we do know that through the cooperation of the Red Cross and the QCEN the lives of numerous victims of area disaster were made considerably more pleasant than would have been possible without emergency radio communications. The QCEN will continue to provide emergency radio communications of the highest quality possible to the benefit of the Greater Cincinnati residents.


Last edited by n8tfd , based on work by k8tng .
Page last modified on Thursday 27 January, 2011 01:45:26 EST.

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