Kevin Dalton, a Boone County 911 operator and the District Emergency person for Boone County’s amateur radio operators, talks on a Ham radio at the 911 center in Danville last week.
DANVILLE – Last year, three major storms hit our area, causing widespread and long-lasting power outages. These weather events also hampered communication efforts and delivery of up-to-the-minute information difficult, especially in rural areas of the county.
“We had a major storm in March, June and in late October of last year,” said Kevin Dalton, a Boone County 911 operator and the District Emergency person for Boone County’s amateur radio operators. “These storms had a devastating effect on emergency communications in Boone County, as all of the county repeaters where not working.”
Dalton said the county was having to dispatch by cell, landline phone and by hand held radios.
“With all of the power outages, not all of the local fire departments had back-up generators, so this was a big problem not only for the fire departments, but for the people who lived in the affected areas,” he said. “There were parts of the county that were totally cut off from the outside world for several weeks.”
Now, Dalton and Ken Cregger, District Emergency Coordinator for Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES), want to have a meeting with Boone and Lincoln County amateur radio operators, commonly referred to as “HAM” radio operators.
The meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, May 9, 2013, at 6 p.m. at the Danville Volunteer Fire Department. Some of the topics that will be discussed include working with the Boone County Emergency Management Agency Director, setting up an emergency communications network, emergency planning, new HAMS and other comments and concerns.
“A volunteer network of amateur radio operators that can jump into action to relay crucial information is our goal,” Cregger said.
Even with the popularity of cell phones, the passion for ham radio is alive and well in our region and Cregger and Dalton want to get these local radio operators involved in times of emergency.
“During weather emergencies, a break-down of communication can be a matter of life and death when cell phones and land lines are not always working,” Dalton said. “The amateur radio community could be very important during a major weather emergency, which we have seen in our past. Probably the other thing that would most affect our infrastructure like electricity and phone lines would be an ice storm where you have a lot of people without power, phone lines would be down, and then the amateur radio community would be vitally important to keep communications.”
Information on the HAM radio community and how you can be a part of it will also be part of the meeting, Dalton added.
“We are going to try to have food and drinks available,” he said. “We are looking forward to seeing as many people as possible at the meeting. If you cannot come, please feel free to call me or send me an e-mail at any time.”
Dalton can be reached at 304-369-9122 or 304-784-2507 or by email at email@example.com