Local ham radio operators participate in amateur radio field day

By Adam Hooper - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - We are now four weeks in to hurricane season. And, should another one come our way, emergency responders are prepared. You may remember some forms of communication were down during the storms of 2005. But ham radio frequencies remained operational.   

"All of the amateur operators from across the country bring their equipment out for an emergency simulation. It is like a test, where we make it a contest to see how many people we can contact," said Douglas Phelps.

At the field day the main purpose is to contact as many people as possible. After a while, one ham radio operator was able to make contact.

"We called C.Q. That is a general call, saying you will talk to anybody. We made contact and naturally, when we do that, we log it on the computer and we get points for that."

During this exercise, the Calcasieu Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness let them borrow their communications mobile command center. Dick Gremillion with the Office of Emergency Preparedness explains why the ham radio is so reliable.

"Amateur radio, itself, does not use the infrastructure that a lot of other communication means do. In an event like a hurricane, where we lose a lot of infrastructure, they are able to communicate because they are not dependent on that infrastructure," said Dick Gremillion.

In year 2005, for hurricanes Katrina and Rita, ham radio came in handy.

"They passed a lot of emergency information in to and out of areas that had lost all of their communications. It was a lot of family messages, a lot of emergency messages for governments. It was very helpful," said Dick Gremillion.

This year they were able to make contact with other ham radio operators as far as Guatemala.

(Copyright 2009 KPLC-TV. All rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)