Amateur radio operators across Georgia will meet Saturday at the state’s public safety training center to learn how to best maintain critical emergency communications during a disaster.
The Georgia Amateur Radio Emergency Service’s annual meeting will be at the Georgia Public Service Training Center in Forsyth from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ham radio operators will update their training based on lessons learned from recent disasters.
“Hurricane Irma tested our ability to respond to a major disaster, and we are using what we learned to better prepare our operators should we be called on again,” said David Benoist, Georgia section manager for the Amateur Radio Relay League.
Disasters such as hurricanes Irma and Maria can take out critical communications infrastructure. Ham operators have the ability to still communicate without telephones or Internet, and ARES operators train specifically to assist emergency management agencies with necessary communications should other means not be available.
“Amateur radio is so important to emergency management as the resource can provide various means of emergency communications when all else fails,” said David Murphy, White County’s director of public safety. “Recently in our Irma response and recovery, our ARES team from the (emergency operations center) communicated directly with the State Operations Center providing information and documentation. Our systems – phone, wireless and Internet – were completely down. The only access we had was through ARES.”
Operators attending the meeting today will take classes on a range of skills, from operating in a hospital, Red Cross shelter, or emergency management incident command post, to selecting and maintaining emergency power sources; storm-spotting; and using digital text messaging to relay messages over radio without the Internet or wifi.