Video: Ham radio operator Matt, K0MOS activates a portable, emergency communications ham radio station atop Mount McConnell in Colorado. He demonstrates the ease with which amateur radio contacts are made with stations as far away as Wisconsin and Arkansas.
Ham Radio and The Colorado Wildfires
According to a story in the Denver Post (Colorado wildfire: Colorado’s amateur radio operators fill in wildfire-coverage gaps 6/14/12), ham radio operators are providing the last-ditch mode of emergency communications where commercial networks can’t reach or have failed through parts of Colorado ravaged by recent wildfires.
A 5:15 a.m. phone call Sunday asked amateur radio operator Randy Long to find more volunteers to aid communication in the High Park fire zone — and warned him to evacuate his home.
Long, an Amateur Radio Emergency Service coordinator for Larimer and Weld counties, fled his house southeast of Buckhorn Mountain and started rallying more licensed ham operators to work the fire.
Since Saturday, he has been managing operators staffing eight-hour shifts around the clock. They’re doing such things as setting up portable radio repeaters and relaying messages between the fire lines and command posts. About 40 operators have volunteered.
To assist in the Colorado wildfire, the volunteer radio operators reportedly set up over 50 portable repeater stations in the mountainous regions and surrounding population areas to keep communications going.
An amateur radio repeater is a self-sufficient, automated station which receives transmissions on one frequency and retransmits them on another frequency at higher power. It allows “weak signal” stations to be heard over large areas, making them ideal for emergency communications.
The amateur radio operators are assisting agencies like the Red Cross, FEMA and local and state law enforcement by passing logistical traffic such as supplies needed, ground reports, and other critical data for emergency responders over the wildfire area.
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