Amateur Radio Operators Prepare for Disaster - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Amateur Radio Operators Prepare for Disaster

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Recent storms through the valley have come as a reminder for many that communication is vital; and when power goes out so does much of our technology.

Valley News Team's Hope Hanselman met up with a group of local amateur radio operators to find out how they're prepared to get us through it.

Amateur radio, or HAM radio, is not only a hobby for people of all ages, but it keeps us safe more than you might realize.

Saturday, those operators are preparing for the worst. Nationally, HAM Field Day helps those operators train for emergency scenarios. Right here at home, they're already familiar with some of them.

The lines of communication opened for Kenneth Christiansen more than 30 years ago.

Before cell phones, before email, Kenneth had a small camper and a five-watt radio.

"Last summer, I got up one day in Northern Minnesota and I talked to Australia early in the morning," he said,

He's one of hundreds of thousands of amateur radio operators in the country, millions around the world; and he's part of a greater good.

"We had HAM radio at the tornado about four years ago," Kenneth said.

When disaster hits, and cell phones and email go out, Ken's lines of communication keep emergency responders on the air.

"Right now we're trying to get as many communications across the country as we can," Tim Cruff, radio operator, said.

You'll find them on the airwaves this weekend as dozens of others gather in Sabin to prepare for the worst.

"Field Day is sort of the practice for North America as if the regular systems went down and we had to operate with emergency systems."

An eighth of the energy it takes to power a dim light bulb will send a message from Sabin City Park anywhere in the world.

So when we face the worst, these HAMs have the power it takes to talk us through.

We've recently seen these radio operators in action.

After the Boston Marathon attacks, phone systems went down and the only reliable form of communication was through amateur radio.

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