Certified ARRL field instructors conducted an Emergency Communications class 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 emergency communication volunteers.
Eleven Kent and Sussex amateur radio operators, known as “hams,” successfully completed the course and will be better-prepared for communications duty in public service when a disaster or emergency occurs, ARRL representatives said.
After disasters that damage, disrupt, or overload regular lines of communications, 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 the County Emergency Operations Centers.
Hams have a nationwide group organized for daily radio “traffic.” During disasters or other emergencies, radiograms are used to communicate information critical to saving lives or property. When all telephone service and email is out anywhere in the country, radiograms are also used to relay health or welfare information 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 U.S. and to many foreign countries. The ham who takes the message the last mile will use any method available to deliver the message. The methods include phone, email, snail-mail or hand delivery to the recipient.
Many radio amateurs are active as communications volunteers with local public safety organizations. They are also involved in Skywarn, operating under the National Weather Service, and provide emergency weather information directly to the NWS for analysis and dissemination to the public. For information on becoming an amateur radio operator go to www.arrl.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.