About David Coursey, N5FDL
Licensed since 1983, David holds an Amateur Extra Class license and his FCC callsign is N5FDL. He is a lead volunteer examiner in the FCC’s licensing program for Amateur Radio operators. He has personally trained and tested more than 250 new hams in San Joaquin County and been involved in licensing hundreds more in the San Francisco Bay Area. His one-day “HamCram” study sessions and other events are the primary creator of new hams in San Joaquin County.
His interest in Amateur Radio was sparked by a family member, Dr. Russ Van Kirk, K5OSH, when David was 12 years old. Ham radio has been a driving force in his personal and professional life ever since. Before moving to California in 1990, David was a storm spotter with the Amateur Radio SKYWARN program in his native Dallas, Texas, where he was also involved in a variety of other emergency activities.
David is a 20-year member of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Search-and-Rescue organization, where he serves on the communications unit. He has also worked as an Information Officer at various times. He is certified as a SAR-TECH II by the National Association for Search and Rescue. He has participated in more than 100 missions with the Sheriff’s unit, including the Sept. 2010 natural gas explosion in San Bruno, CA.
San Joaquin County ARES serves various county agencies, primarily the Emergency Medical Services Agency and Public Health Services. As ARES Coordinator, David organizes volunteers for these agencies and serves as the only volunteer member of the EMS Agency’s Emergency Planning Committee, alongside representatives of the county’s hospitals and clinics.
David has created an organization of more than 100 volunteers who can be immediately notified, using an automated telephone and e-mail system, when they are needed in an emergency. This system (and its volunteers) are available to any organization (primarily governmental) needing assistance. This system serves as the primary notification system for ARES, City of Tracy Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and other groups.
CEVOL and other groups are in the process of creating a “rapid response team” to search for missing children and at-risk adults in San Joaquin County. When operational (April, 2011), the unit will work with public safety and other governmental and private organizations. The impetus for creation of the unit was the March 27, 2009 abduction and murder of Sandra Cantu, an 8-year-old Tracy girl. Former Stockton Police Chief Tom Morris, also a ham operator, serves as the program’s liaison to law enforcement agencies.
David was part of a group of three ham operators who, in 2009, petitioned the FCC to change its rules so as to allow public safety and other emergency workers to participate in drills and exercises on behalf of their employers (fire departments, hospitals, etc.). Joined by the ARRL, the American Hospital Association, State of California, and other groups, the petition ultimately resulted in a 2010 rule change. This was the fastest the FCC had ever acted on a petition in the Amateur Radio Service.
David is the founder of the Tracy (CA) Amateur Radio Club, created to organize Amateur Radio activities and support emergency communications activities in the community where he resides. TracyARC and Tracy ARES work closely and have overlapping membership with the city’s CERT group. All CERT team leaders are required to be licensed Amateur Radio operators, a function organized by the club.
David is also a member of the ACS in Manteca, CA and a State of California Disaster Service Worker with several organizations.
Working with the Northern California Packet Association, David was primarily responsible for the creation of designated channels for Amateur Radio emergency data communications. These channels are now used in Santa Clara County (CA) as part of its emergency packet network. David was subsequently elected President of NCPA for 2011.
For five years, David was a Disaster Action Team member for the American Red Cross, responding to incidents throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. He was honored as San Mateo County’s volunteer of the year and responded to approximately 25 percent of all calls over four of the five years. He had extensive Red Cross training and while no longer a member, remains a strong supporter of the organization.
David is a California Emergency Medical Technician and a Basic Life Support instructor with the National Safety Council, ASHI, and (formerly) American Heart Association.
He has extensive training in the Incident Command System (ICS), including week-long FEMA classes for Division/Group Supervisor, Operations Section Chief, Information Officer, Incident Commander, and two-day class for Liaison Officer training. He has also completed more than a dozen online courses and a multi-day hazardous materials operations course.
David is an expert on public emergency warning issues, having founded a company that created Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) software (authoring tool and server) for Microsoft Corp. He is a consultant to Alerting Solutions Inc. and assists in development and marketing of its line of CAP, Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), Emergency Alert System (EAS) systems and other tools for emergency managers, broadcasters, and others.
A professional writer and broadcaster, David has written about emergency communications for the ARRL, through its QST magazine and online publications. He has given presentations at EMCOMM West, Pacificon, and other Amateur Radio conferences.
This backgrounder covers only his emergency services work. A professional biography may be found at www.coursey.com. Outside of Amateur Radio, David has worked as a volunteer in animal rescue, the National Audubon Society, and wishes he had more time to ride his bicycle, birdwatch, or do both simultaneously.
David lives in Tracy with his wife, Elionora Bjur, who works at an EMT for American Medical Response and is a 911 responder in the city. She is also a licensed ham, whose callsign is K6SWE, and a volunteer FCC license examiner. They share their home with a herd of rescued felines, some tropical fish, a 14-year-old dwarf Rosy Boa, and more than a dozen geckos, which Elionora breeds as a hobby.