During the last few months, the United States of America endured many disasters, from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, to the wildfires in northern and southern California. All of these events needed first responders (police, fire, medical) and served agencies (American Red Cross, CERT) that help evacuate and shelter residents. Many vital services like cell phones, Internet, and power are spotty or non-existent in these disaster areas. Behind the scenes and often overlooked is a group of dedicated individuals who help connect coordinators and first responders with residents and local government. They are amateur radio operators, affectionately called Hams.
Hams volunteer their time to help in situations when normal communications systems aren't operating. They bring their own radios, batteries, and antennas. They know how of pass vital messages quickly and accurately. And many hams can stay on the scene several days with the contents of their "Go Bags." Some hams even carry solar panels to power their equipment.
Oct 14 was the date our most recent Simulated Emergency Test (SET) was held. The SET is a national event where hams get on the air and prepare for disasters of all shapes and sizes.
As Walter Cronkite said, "In any other endeavor, these individuals would be called professionals." Cronkite himself was an amateur radio operator.
If you would like to get involved with amateur radio in San Benito County, go to the San Benito Amateur Radio Association’s website at SBCARES.ORG and learn more about this potentially life-saving volunteer role. Hams also help with county events like Lights On Parade, the Hollister Airshow, and the Olive Festival. There are social gatherings too, where they enjoy talking with other hams in the next state or around the world.