Radio amateurs tune into a vital network


GAUTIER, Miss. (WLOX) -“CQ. CQ” This is what radio amateurs say when they open the microphone to talk to someone.

This weekend, that phrase and others hit the airwaves across the country and even in Canada. Here on the coast, the Jackson County Amateur Radio Association has also set up for its annual field day event. In this scenario, a natural disaster has impacted all communications in southern Mississippi.

“We’re off the grid…no internet. We’re in the dark,” Charlie Hardt said.

This means that these Jackson County ham radio operators are the only ears and voices capable of sending and receiving messages and communicating vital information to the outside world.

“We send e-mails. We have digital communications with other amateurs,” Hardt said.

Although this was a one-day disaster exercise in the field, this type of communication was essential in the hours and days following Hurricane Katrina.

“It was a hell of a time. I knew a number of hobbyists who were spreading health and wellness messages. I knew a co-worker who used his tractor battery to get messages across,” Hardt added. “We have a courier network across North America. The status, and if they need to come here.

You can call them communications first responders because they tune to the correct frequency and provide much-needed service when there is a problem and when the air is clear but the message needs to be delivered.

“We feel a sense of duty to our country. To our community.

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