ARRL-certified field instructors conducted an emergency communications course for FCC-licensed amateur radio operators this month. The 24-hour course, held over two weekends in August, is designed to provide basic knowledge and tools for volunteers in emergency communication.
Eleven amateur radio operators from Kent and Sussex, known as ‘hams’, have successfully completed the course and will be better prepared for public service communication duties in the event of a disaster or emergency, said ARRL representatives.
After disasters that damage, disrupt or overload regular lines of communication, amateur radio operators set up and operate organized communication networks. Often using their own equipment, local hams provide communication between critical locations, such as hospitals, police stations, utility companies and county emergency operations centers.
The hams have an organized national band for daily radio “traffic”. During disasters or other emergencies, radiograms are used to communicate essential information to save lives or property. When all telephone services and e-mail are broadcast all over the country, radiograms are also used to relay information about the health or well-being of a family member who lives in the disaster area. The relay group operates 365 days a year to transmit and receive messages across the United States and to many foreign countries. The ham taking the message the last mile will use any method available to deliver the message. Methods include telephone, email, mail or hand delivery to recipient.
Many radio amateurs are active as communications volunteers with local public safety organizations. They are also involved with Skywarn, operating under the National Weather Service, and provide emergency weather information directly to the NWS for analysis and dissemination to the public. For more information on how to become an amateur radio operator, go to www.arrl.org or email [email protected]