Watches, Warnings & Advisories for Sunflower Co.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Health & Welfare

As I write this entry, I'm winding down a two-hour stint as the net control station for the Mississippi Emergency Net, established to handle health & welfare traffic from areas of the state affected by Hurricane Isaac.

In disasters, telephone circuits can become overloaded very quickly, provided they're not damaged by the emergency itself.  Cellular telephone systems are vulnerable to this overload as well.  In times when normal communications systems are unavailable, a tried-and-true system of passing messaged to loved ones remains available: amateur radio.

Amateur radio operators have the ability to link to other stations across the state and nation.  "Passing traffic", or relaying important messages for friends and family, is a core function of the amateur radio service.

If you live in an area affected by disaster and cannot contact friends and family outside of the area, you may find amateur radio stations set up at shelters and county emergency operations centers.  There, radio operators can assist you compose a telegram-like message, called a Radiogram, to send out of the area.

Examples of pre-formatted health & welfare messages include the following:

ARL-One: Everyone safe here.  Please don't worry
ARL-Two: Coming home as soon as possible
ARL-Three: Am in _____ hospital.  Receiving excellent care and recovering fine.
ARL-Four: Only slight property damage here.  Do not be concerned about disaster reports.

There are many more emergency-related pre-formatted messages, or you can format your own unique message to communicate your status and well-being to relatives.

You can also send Radiograms during non-emergency times.  Greetings for holidays, birthdays, or other special events can be sent in this old-fashioned, but proven method.

Amateur radio may seem like a quaint and somewhat antiquated hobby, but when other methods fail, you can depend on an amateur radio operator to pass your message along!

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