Most folks tend to ignore or undervalue amateur radio operators, often referred to as hams. Even so, these dedicated radio operators come to the rescue of their nations whenever disaster strikes and normal modes of communication fail.
These dedicated radio enthusiasts are able to set up emergency radio communication centres quickly and efficiently. During emergency simulation exercises, they travel to rural locations and set up battery-powered equipment. Then they pass on simulated emergency messages from the field to medical staff and government agencies.
But this isn’t all hams do. They report the results of cycling races, car rallies, and skiing tournaments so that the organizers can know the progress of the participants. Some amateurs visit schools and set up a time when children can ask their questions to astronauts on The International Space and Science Centre space station. To keep in practice for passing on emergency messages, hams relay questions and answers from family members to their scattered members around the world.
Though the regulations have been relaxed since the amateur radio service was first officially recognized by governments around the globe, new students still need to learn many things. One of these is radio etiquette. Meetings called nets are set up by various amateur radio clubs to relay messages and to brief members on club events. Some nets are held for casual conversations between amateurs while others are strictly structured as practice sessions for emergency training.
Having been a ham since 1987, I haven’t had much experience in relaying messages and helping out in practices for emergencies such as ice storms and floods. Even so, I’ve enjoyed speaking with people on the air across North America and one man in Ireland. I also made contact with a cosmonaut aboard the MIR space station during December of 1988.
In the event of an emergency, I would be proud to help in whatever way I could. This is because of the service-oriented nature of the hobby. Hams aren’t allowed to accept any remuneration for what they do. I’m glad this is so because it means that only dedicated men and women leap into action when duty calls.