Amateur radio still proving useful in an emergency
It can't exactly be described as a lost medium, but as new communication technologies have evolved, amateur radio has been pushed to the back burner. But as our Bill Mich tells us, in a time of need, a small battery powered radio can provide a great deal of help.
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APALACHIN, N.Y. -- Operating an amateur radio is something that is not taken lightly.
"A Ham radio operator is licensed by the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission. Every ham who is licensed has to pass a test," said amateur radio operator, Dick Farman.
But what makes a ham radio operator unique is that they work completely as a volunteer and can send and receive messages at the most inopportune times.
"It doesn't matter whether NYSEG goes down or cell phones go down or all that, we can still communicate," Farman said.
So 40 years ago when the flood water of Hurricane Agnes ripped through the Twin Tiers, or even last September when Tropical Storm Lee brought similar devastation, ham radio operators were there to lend a hand.
"I was providing local communications. I was at my home, but I was using battery powered radio to talk to, we had another ham set up at the Red Cross, they had a temporary set up at the Washington-Gladden school, I believe is where they were," said amateur radio operator, Mike Gruszka.
Sunday, a group of local hams were out showing off what the technology could do, making contact with other users across the country. But it is the local benefits the radios can supply that will ensure ham radio operators will always be in need.
"It takes the burden off of some of the other networks especially the police. They are probably busy tending to emergencies, they don't need to be answering phone calls about bread and water," Gruszka said.
Unfortunately, many of the circumstances that call for amateur radio operators come in the form of emergencies, but just like they were 40 years ago, and last September, hams will be ready to put their talents to good use when called upon.