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Ham radio operators take emergency communications class

Certified Amateur Radio Relay League field instructors recently conducted an emergency communications class for FCC-licensed amateur radio operators.

The 24-hour course, held over two weekends in August, provides basic knowledge and tools for emergency communications volunteers.

A group of 11 local 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.

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 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. This relay group operates 365 days a year to transmit and receive messages across the U.S., and to and from many foreign countries. The ham who takes the message the last mile will use any method available to deliver the message. These 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 service for analysis and dissemination to the public.

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