In a disaster, these amateur radio operators could offer an essential lifeline



HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — Each year, Stacy Holbrook and the other Hawaiian ham radio operators train for worst-case scenarios, when all other communications systems are taken out of service and called upon to broadcast alerts and informations.

“We would like people to know that we are an option. If in the worst case scenario we have to do something, we can do it,” he said.

On April 16, amateur radio enthusiasts in Hawaii will conduct their largest exercise ever, testing FEMA’s Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation program in a simulated mass emergency.

“It’s going to be a catastrophic storm, a flood, a wind. All power lines are cut. All cell towers are down,” Holbrook said.

Radio operators will transmit messages using backup batteries or generators through systems that do not depend on cell towers or the Internet.

“If that ever happens, you don’t panic and stress. You have your systems in place,” he said. “You know they work and you can pass on messages.”

This will be the first time this test has been conducted statewide in the United States.

“It helps us be on the same levels of communication, the same forms, the same acronyms as the agencies we use like the Red Cross, hospitals and emergency operations centers,” Holbrook said.

He urges all of Hawaii’s 3,800 radio amateurs to participate in the one-day dress rehearsal, even if they only have a small portable radio.

“This radio cost me $30. And that can be a lifesaver,” he said, holding up a palm-sized unit.

To learn more about the exercise, visit the Amateur Radio Emergency Service website.

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