SAN ANGELO – The winter storm that hit Texas in February 2021 killed at least 176 people and left millions without power.
Without electricity to charge computers and cellphones, amateur radio – or ham radio – has been used by licensed operators in San Angelo to transmit information in one of the region’s worst emergencies in years.
Denny Mills, who recently became an amateur radio operator, was contacted during the storm by San Angelo Amateur Radio Club member Dave Mulvey, who provided Mills with critical and urgent information that enabled him and his family, to better prepare for the unprecedented weather event.
Mills said without ham radio and a trained operator, the effects of the devastating storm could have been much worse.
“It was a real blessing to me,” said Mills. “I had just had a small portable unit and when we had the ice storm our house was literally without electricity and no heat for three days. We had no TV or anything and when the water was running. was cut, we would have had no way of knowing if it hadn’t been for Dave (Mulvey) to let us know so that we had enough time to fill the containers. was the only communication we had for three days. “
In an effort to keep their communication skills up to date, members of the San Angelo Amateur Radio Club gathered at the San Angelo City and Tom Green County Emergency Operations Center on Saturday to participate in a day world of amateur radio.
The goal of the field day is to hone skills that could have been and have been put to use in an emergency. Dave Mulvey, field day coordinator with the San Angelo Amateur Radio Club, said the event helps keep operators’ skills up to date.
“This is the day, once a year, that all hams work, and it serves many purposes,” Mulvey said. “One is to practice amateur radio skills and be prepared for emergencies. This is the day we come together and operate and talk with amateur radio operators across the country. . The point here is to have fun but also to be ready in case we need to. “
David Behrend, club secretary and treasurer, said amateur radio operators can often be the last line of communication in an emergency when other methods fail.
“We want to practice our emergency communications,” Behrend said. “Amateur radio operators can come in and set up a station and antenna so they can communicate with other stations all over the world. Amateur radio operators are notorious for delivering messages after a major disaster when communications fail. . “
Colin Murphey is a photojournalist covering everything going on in West Texas for the San Angelo Standard-Times. Send him a tip at [email protected] Consider supporting West Texas journalism with a subscription to GoSanAngelo.com.