Summit Comm is where Caltrans, the California Department of Forestry and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) convene in a 'war-room' atmosphere to manage the area. The decision to close the Cajon Pass is made by Caltrans (state transportation department) and enforced by the CHP.
To accomplish that task, officials need timely and accurate information about the conditions in Cajon Pass. This has given rise to a unique group of volunteers, the CHP Victorville Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS).
ACS unit participants go out in their own vehicles and survey conditions. Via HAM radio, they report to their colleagues at a base station inside the CHP office in Victorville. 'We've had to use people in uniform to do this before. Now, our patrol officers can focus on critical tasks because the group takes care of gathering and organizing information' said CHP Sgt. John Macdonald. The group has about 30 local members, some of whom keep tabs on highway conditions in the area where they reside as well as providing other services. Some of them have served as 'human repeaters', standing in snowstorms and holding equipment so radio signals could get through. 'The volunteers have been on "storm alert" several times in recent weeks, and expect to be active when temperatures drop even lower and the possibility of snow increases.'
'All of us are tied to the (Cajon) pass in one way or another', said Ron Wilson, president of Desert Community Bank, which donated $2,500 so the radio group could buy safety vests and equipment.