HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - When technology failed on a massive scale
last week, some old-fashioned broadcasting stepped into the breach
as ham radio operators took to the airwaves to reach emergency
For millions of people in the Northeast and Midwest last week's
massive blackout took access to e-mail and the Internet with it.
Landline and cellular telephones were jammed by a crush of calls.
But the ham radio, which came into being in the World War I era,
connected firefighters and police departments, Red Cross workers
and other emergency personnel during the most extensive blackout in
the Northeast since 1977.
Ham operators are not dependent on a server or cell tower, and
with battery backup can operate when grids fail.
"When everything else fails, the ham radio is still there,"
said Allen Pitts, a ham operator in New Britain. "You can't knock
out that system."
The radios are operated by a network of volunteers organized by
the Newington-based American Radio Relay League.
Ham radio's importance won renewed recognition after the
terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The organization won a federal
Homeland Security grant of nearly $182,000 to train amateur radio
operators in emergency operations to help during terrorist attacks.
"It's incredible the differences you're seeing, the large cadre
of people who know what they're doing," Pitts said. "It's making
a major difference."
Tom Carrubba, a coordinator for ARRL in New York City's five
boroughs and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, said
volunteers went to work immediately after power went down Thursday
"In five minutes guys were on the air with the Red Cross and
Office of Emergency Management," he said.
During other disasters, such as severe weather, ARRL volunteers
and coordinators activate telephone trees, Carrubba said. On
Thursday they instead hit their assigned frequency or staffed an
emergency operations center.
It didn't take an army. In the New York-Long Island region, with
a population of nearly 10 million, about 100 ham radio operators
handled the situation, Carrubba said.
Some volunteers headed to a Red Cross headquarters or shelter,
fire department, or hospital, he said. One hospital was temporarily
out of power and ARRL volunteers provided communications to
ambulances until electricity was restored.
In Connecticut, which did not experience a communications
emergency, ham operators were on standby.
The ARRL report on ham radio's response to the blackout was not
completed by Monday. But Carrubba estimated that operators handled
between 800 and 1,000 communications from Thursday afternoon until
early Friday morning. Typically the operators - largely supplanted
by the Internet and e-mail - respond to about five communications a
week, he said.
"A lot of our traffic is a trickle now," Carrubba said. "It's
just a routine hello, a happy birthday or happy anniversary."
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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Thread: Splendid Hams....radio that is!
08-19-2003, 12:52 AM #1
Splendid Hams....radio that is!Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones
*Gathering Crust Since 1968*
On the web at www.section2wildfire.com
08-19-2003, 11:18 AM #2
Ever get the impression after the big one occurs, only cockroaches & HAMs will be left
08-19-2003, 09:37 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jan 2003
- Kearney, Nebraska USA
There will always a ham radio operater around to help out when needed. You may just want to ask around and find a Amateur Radio Operater in your area and ask what they can do for you in an emergancy. We have used them for communications from the water supply areas back to the fire scene and have had know problems.
These guys are just a dedicated to there hobby as we are to the fire service.
08-20-2003, 10:35 AM #4
- Join Date
- Nov 2002
- Western NC
Ham radio is THE ONLY true fail-safe method of emergency communications. I don't care what it is, nothing will ever knock all the hams off the air, unless we are all dead.
The local ARES (Amatuer Radio Emergency Services) group in my county had been inactive for several years, due mostly to the fact that the county refused to work with them. We are working to correct that now, since many in the county EM office and on several deartments are now hams (10% of my department right now!) and realize more what we can offer.
Indeed the EM Director was bragging about his new sat phone and how he could contact the state EOC no matter what, and when I pointed out to him that I had the same capability, but without paying $5.00 minute or depending on a third party sateelite, he was quite suprised.
Our current plan calls for the installation of antennas at each fire station and the county EOC, SO, and police stations so that hams can simply bring radios and be ready to operate. Hams will then pass all non emeregncy traffic in the event of some major incident (blackout, flood, blizzard) keeping the fire, medical, and police frequencies clear for emergency traffic, and easing the workload on the dispatchers. These will also be used when working major events within one district to communicate from the incident location to the station for items such as food, drinks, and other needs. In many remote sections of the county, ham radio would be the only means of communicationg as the county system does not cover deep into the national forests, so on searchs this system will be very helpfull.
The hams have agreed to build and install the antennas if the county buys the materials, and total cost to install antennas at 14 stations, the county EOC, and 4 PD's..... $360. Not each, but total.
Its free help guys, if you are not using it, there is no reason not to. Hams bringa communication capaility that cannot be matched in terms of dependability and adaptability. Long before interoperability was even a buzzword, smart agencies were using hams for just that, posting one with each agency that needed to be communicated with, because no matter where in the US the hams are from 99% have a 2 meter VHF radio, so we are all on the same frequencies for local work.
Last edited by radioguy; 08-20-2003 at 10:42 AM.
02-13-2006, 06:19 PM #5capfiremedicFirehouse.com Guest
If it wasn't for a HAM, specifically an honest to god vacuum tube for brains eee-lectronic wizard, we'd have been up sh*t's creek for sure and for certain here in Hancock county after KATRINA. He and his lady also run a lo-power FM radio station in the County that is the only honest source of news we see. You won't hear me putting a HAM down, EVER!
02-14-2006, 11:30 AM #6
- Join Date
- Mar 2002
- Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.
When I was on UN duty in Cyprus, one of the ways to "call home" was via ham radio. I never needed to use it, but it was kinda comical to overhear some of the conversations:
"Hello Dear... ahh... over."If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)
"I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD
"Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)
Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!
impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto
IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.
02-16-2006, 11:59 PM #7
QSL WA2HUQ Been a while since i've looked at Q codes.
02-17-2006, 11:55 AM #8
Some of the HAMs around here are just that, HamSexy. 8 radios, 14 antennas, all the amber lights you can imagine on their vehicle, etc. A bunch of real whackers..
Granted, I just tested out as a Tech, but whiskey-tango-foxtrot, that doesn't mean I need coverage from 0-infinty in my car....
*Sigh*Originally Posted by ThNozzleMan
I A C O J
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04-19-2006, 06:05 PM #9
- Join Date
- Apr 2006
Looking to link Fire HAM repeaters to my network NYC area
Im looking to expand or network of repeaters in the NYC area and into the Long island area. Looking to expand into Ct, NJ, upstate NY, Pa. with other public safety personnel. So far we have FDNY and Nassau County PD amatuers. If interested please contact me at FDNY HQ 718-999-1436
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