Emergency Communications

A Memorable Story From President George Plotkin KF5WFA

Club President George Plotkin, KF5WFA, writes some ‘Food for Thought: Ham Radio is Awesome!’ in the September issue of “The Groundwire” website of the Tyler (TX) Amateur Radio Club. It’s about Emergency communications …  Layne AE1N

Sometimes one is compelled to share a story, particularly one of a timely and life-affirming nature. As you all know by now, we had the Texas QSO party this past weekend, a chance for us to get to know one another and to get on the air and make a few contacts. Not being a contester, I viewed the QSO party as a chance to sharpen my amateur skills.

Terry Gimbel, W5TG, a former Tyler ARC president, and an all-around good guy, was the midwife for this event and was a good one at that.  He and Bill Huston (W5ZK) got us up and running on Friday night, and Saturday went fairly well. Most of the folks who showed were old hands at ham radio. Contacts were made until the bands crashed around midday. The crowd left around 1600 HRS, leaving Terry to watch over things for a bit. What happened next was remarkable, and Terry’s own description is better than anything I can pen. Terry writes:

“Saturday afternoon, after everyone had gone for the day, I was just tuning around on the 10m band for no particular reason when I heard a very faint signal calling ‘CQ’. The operator sounded desperate for any North American station on frequency to answer. Not hearing anyone else answer him, I responded with my call and that’s when things got serious.

“The calling station was in Puerto Rico. The operator said he was on a salvaged wire dipole taped to the roof of a building and was running on generator power. The man’s name was Luis. He said he had very little gas for the generator and was desperately looking for someone to relay health and safety information into the U.S. He asked me if I could just take as many names and phone numbers as possible and to call family, friends and loved ones. Now, my Spanish is rudimentary at best but for the next 90 minutes under very bad band conditions we made it work. I’ll tell ‘the rest of the story’ at the next club meeting.”

Wow! One of the original reasons for radio was to relay messages in times of emergency. The Amateur Radio Relay League had that as a fundamental part of their constitution. What was initially a get-together to meet one another for fellowship and to try our hand at HF radio communications became a life and death issue for an amateur radio operator named Luis and those he was valiantly trying to help. There he was, huddled in the dark without power or water, running his equipment on the only generator for miles around with gas from an overturned car and one of our amateurs rose to the occasion and made a real difference.

Thanks Terry, you made a difference.

Ham radio is awesome.

73 de George KF5WFA

FULL STORY: http://www.tylerarc.org/?p=1112

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