Amateur radio is a hobby and has over 600,000 radio operators in the USA alone. The hobby is about communications and various ways of communicating via radio waves.
What most people do not know about the hobby and the people that are operators is that they are one of the most used groups in a disaster situation.
The amateur radio community has networks set up all over the world that can be activated quickly if there is a disaster anywhere in the world. Amateurs worked weeks at the site of 9-1-1 in New York side by side with rescue crews supplying communications.
When there is a disaster such a hurricanes or tornadoes or the likes of 9-1-1 then one of the first things to go away is the local communications. Phones go down and electricity and the only thing left is amateur radio operators that can operate from a battery and a piece of wire for an antenna.
Many operators were involved this last year in all the hurricanes that we had. The amateurs had hurricane watch nets up all over the world just watching and reporting the advance of these storms. Once these storm passed the radio operators set up nets to pass traffic for rescue groups as well as passing health and welfare traffic to people trying the get in touch with relatives in the stricken area. It is always great to get a message out to someone that says we are ok and we are alive.
Amateur radio operators are the eyes of the National Weather Service. If you do not believe that then just ask someone that works for the weather service. Every National Weather Service office in the USA has amateur radio operators on duty any time that there are storms in the area. The weather service does have a great radar but the radar cannot see the storms like human eyes can.
Some where in this country there are amateur operators watching storms and reporting what they see to the National Weather Service almost any time of the day and night. These radio operators have been trained in storm watching so that they will be able to send reports that the weather service that can used immediately. From that point all the reported storm data goes out to weather radio and local radio and TV stations for broadcast to the public.
These amateur radio operators may or may not be heroes but they are always there when needed to warn the public of danger. The kicker to all this is that the operators buy all their own radio equipment and give their time to keep the public safe.
Always doing the job in the background at no cost to the public. Usually this service gets no recognition for saving lives. Heroes? You decide.