In the event of a natural disaster, radio amateurs can be the first to transmit calls for help to the rest of the world.
- Amateur radio club in Albury raises money and radio equipment for flood-affected communities
- It is estimated that around 12 amateur radio clubs lost vital equipment in the floods
- These clubs may provide some of the only communications with the outside world during disasters
But in recent weeks, radio amateurs in flood-affected areas have watched helplessly as all their vital equipment has been swept away.
However, a club on the New South Wales/Victoria border stepped in to help.
“We saw a need,” said North East Victoria Amateur Radio Club secretary Frank Scott.
First to tell the world
Sometimes, radio amateurs provide the only communications following natural disasters.
This was the case in 1974 when Hurricane Tracy hit Darwin.
He said it was the same during the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983 and the Newcastle earthquake in 1989.
Many of those who use radios in disasters are members of the Wireless Institute of Australia’s Civil Emergency Network.
“In areas like Lismore and south-east Queensland where floods and fires are quite common, many amateur operators … provide emergency communications during these disasters,” Mr Scott said.
Strip clubs are flooded with vital equipment
But following the floods, it is believed that around 12 clubs were stripped of their kit.
Much of it was not covered by flood insurance.
“The problem is yes, you can insure your home, you can insure your car,” Mr Scott said.
“But it’s very difficult to insure things like amateur radio equipment or communication towers.
“That’s where we came in.”
Gather supplies for clubs in need
The Albury club has already raised over $3,000 and is asking for equipment from the approximately 15,000 amateur radio enthusiasts across Australia.
“We have already received equipment from as far away as Darwin,” Mr Scott said.
The club is also asking retailers to donate.
“We think it’s just our little way to be able to repay some of the guys up north who have done such great work in the past,” Mr Scott said.
“The response from across the country shows there is definitely a need, and people are stepping up to help.”