Dillman the best man for a lifeboat

12/19/2013

Richard Dillman, a radio buff who created the West Marin Disaster Council’s emergency radio system in 2005, won the 2013 Lifeboat Award on Tuesday. Awarded by the Marin County Office of Emergency Services, the prize nomination form poses this question: “If you had to be stuck on a lifeboat, who would you want to be on it with you?” Aside from his disaster preparedness work, Mr. Dillman, an Inverness Park resident, is the chief operator at KWMR and co-founded the Maritime Radio Historical Society, which preserves the two radio stations in Point Reyes that for decades transmitted and received Morse code broadcasts. “I’m just the luckiest guy. I have this really strong interest in radio communications, and I get to exercise that in a way that has some benefit for the community that I live in,” he said. The emergency radio system works with fire departments to ensure preparedness in the face of calamities like earthquakes or floods. In fact, Mr. Dillman said, just a few months after it kicked off, the system was used during the New Year’s Eve flood of 2005. His commitment to emergency preparedness can be traced back decades. In 1989, when he lived in San Francisco, Mr. Dillman went down to the city’s communications hub after an earthquake, where he found officials were unable to reach the mayor of San Jose. But the two-way radio in his car could. “I had the mayor [of San Francisco] in my old ‘64 Volvo talking to the mayor of San Jose over that two-way radio,” he said. Anita Tyrrell-Brown, Bolinas Fire Protection District chief, nominated Mr. Dillman for the award. “The communities Richard so diligently serves are unique in that during a disaster we can very easily become cut off from outside sources,” she wrote in her nomination letter.