First Response Radio (FRR) is a network of radio broadcasters, NGOs andGovernment partners. Our members have been working in disaster areas since the Tsunami of 2004, providing critical information via radio, as aid . Our goal is to set up a radio station for the affected community within 72 hours of a disaster. The best way we have discovered to build this capacity is to equip and train teams before disaster strikes..
A team was trained in the Philippines in 2007 and though not many of this original team were available, a 5 person team was able to deploy to Tacloban as soon as it became clear that almost all communications were down. The team included International Co-ordinator Mike Adams (who was co-incidentally in the Philippines to discuss further training) as well as local speakers of Tagalong and Waray Waray.
The team was able to make contact with both the Communications group of the UN and the City Officials and were asked by the Mayor to become the “Voice of City Hall”. FRR radio could be heard within a 10k range through solar powered radios distributed by the authorities and set up through loud speakers in the barangays or neighbourhoods.
Messages are being produced by other UN cluster groups giving critical information about food, water, health and sanitation. Local officials, from the Police and Fire Departments are interviewed to pass messages about fire safety and security. Appeals have been made by foreign embassies worried about their nationals. Local religious leaders offer spiritual support and familiar music is played to restore a sense of normality.
The first team is being replaced by a second team, for conditions are tough, and FRR is broadcasting 24 hours a day. Currently the plan is to remain in Tacloban for 30 days, or until the Emergency Phase of the Disaster ends.