Currently I am Communications Coordinator for Red Cross in California, in addition to my regular paid staff position in Disaster Services for the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter. The chapter covers San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin
Counties. Over 4 million people.California Red Cross Chapters (51 units) are divided into three ZONES similar to the State OES Regions. The Bay Area Chapter is responsible for coordinating disasters in all the Coastal counties from Monterey to the Oregon boarder. The Sacramento Chapter is responsible for the Central Valley counties and the Pasadena Chapter is responsible for disaster coordination in Southern California.
Once the disaster cannot be handled by the individual county Chapter, it goes to the Zone lead chapter for mutual aid; if the Zone can't handle the situation, the State Coordination Chapter (Los Angeles) pulls people and materials from all the Zones. If the State can't staff or provide material resources, National Headquarters will coordinate the mitigation effort by mobilizing staff and materials from around the country.
From a communications standpoint, the organization is about the same. We have a data base of each of the California Red Cross facilities which includes their communications capability - both people resources and material resources. A typical Chapter in a non-disaster prone area might only have a Red Cross simplex radio on 47.42 MHz and perhaps an agreement with the local ARES group to support shelter and damage assessment with communications.
The larger chapters and the zone lead chapters have a large assortment of comm gear that can be taken to the scene.