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Published June 24, 2012, 06:06 PM

Ham Radio Operators practice emergency communication

Sabin, MN (WDAY TV) -- If disaster strikes, the power goes out, and all else fails - Ham Radio Operators can keep communication up and running across the country. That's because they can set up impromptu radio stations anywhere to get the word out.

Sabin, MN (WDAY TV) -- If disaster strikes, the power goes out, and all else fails - Ham Radio Operators can keep communication up and running across the country. That's because they can set up impromptu radio stations anywhere to get the word out.

Today, amateur radio operators in Sabin are practicing, preparing for the worst -- a real life weather disaster.

Gurnee Bridgman, an amateur radio operator is busy practicing emergency communication. He and other Hams have helped out with weather emergencies in the F-M area, and across the region.

Gurnee: "We do this to practice our skills, so we can be of help when we are needed."

Amateurs like Bridgman can be useful before, during, and after an actual disaster.. They are trained by the national weather service to be weather spotters. Once they get information they broadcast it to the public.

Gurnee: "Sometimes the water comes from up there and sometimes it comes from down here, but it can be equally dangerous in both cases, and we can be equally helpful in both cases."

The group is only getting their power through generators, because in a real life emergency there may be no commercial power.

Gurnee: "If a tornado came by such as Joplin, or Wadena and took down all the power lines, aint no power."

Michael Heiler is also a Ham. He says the best thing about practice like this is to make sure mistakes are fixed before a real tornado, flood, or chemical spill.

Michael: "We'll jot down notes, like we've had some problems with an antenna over here, so we know we won't do that next year."

The Amateur Radio Emergency Service can broadcast on any open airwave -- making it easy to connect with more people.

Michael: "We aren't stopped by borders, where law enforcement can't go across the border from Minnesota to North Dakota theoretically to help out, we can."

About two years ago this event was cancelled because the group went to Wadena to help in their situation of a real life emergency, a tornado...and it's training like this that will make them even more ready if another situation like that should happen.

Amateur Operators assist law enforcement and other governmental agencies as well.

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