Hams help in emergencies

Published 1:44 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Amateur Radio Service is an FCC-licensed service and is charged with providing a pool of technical experts and trained communicators ready to serve the nation in time of need.

Amateur radio operators, also known as “hams,” have a unique ability to foster international goodwill through people-to-people contacts, as people from all walks of life, from school kids to kings to astronauts, chat as equals on a daily basis.

Hams are renowned for their ability to set up an emergency communications infrastructure after a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or any other natural or man-made disaster. When regular communications channels are clogged or broken down after a disaster, hams step in to create a network of communicators that can facilitate relief for the stricken area. This is exactly what occurred during the tornado outbreak this past April. Well over 100 amateur radio operators jumped into action to help the surrounding counties as power and communications facilities collapsed.

The Shelby County Amateur Radio Club, through its affiliation with the Amateur Radio Relay League and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, is an active member of Shelby County Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster.

When disasters occur, VOAD is called upon to help coordinate relief efforts in the impacted area.

Have you considered becoming a disaster volunteer? Or, are you interested in becoming a ham, providing emergency communications for your town, county or community?

For more information about Shelby County VOAD, contact the Shelby County Red Cross at 987-2792. For more information about amateur radio, contact Terry Dillard, the Shelby County Amateur Radio Emergency Coordinator, at ki4yzi@arrl.net.

Tom Appleby, W4TCA, is the previous Shelby County Amateur Radio Emergency Coordinator and can be reached at w4tca@arrl.net.