Hams take over the air waves

Photo provided by staff.
Saturday, June 22, 2013 - 8:00pm

When the lights go out and cell phones don't work emergency responders depend on one group: hams. Baton Rouge amateur radio operators or hams hosted a field day to test their skills and teach kids their craft.

"I was contacting somebody in South Florida using a ham radio," Gabriel Young, future ham, explained.

Field day is a national exercise for hams to try and contact as many other hams as they can in one day.

"It felt pretty good," Young said. "I felt that I could probably pass the test that I would have to take to get a license to operate my own ham radio. "

Hams make radios out of everyday materials and house hold goods.

"We use nothing more than emergency power, batteries, generators, wires strung up on trees, or portable antennae," Jeremy Gerald, amateur radio operator, said.

Gerald says thousands of hams hit the air waves everyday trying to connect.

"Everyday they are on the air talking to friends that are on the radio that they have never met in person everyday," Gerald said.

The conversations usually are casual.

"I've invited to the Caribbean several times by several people to come stay at their houses, just because of the fact that I am a ham operator," Gerald described. "That's on a normal day in the event of an emergency or disaster it becomes serious. "

Hams help emergency officials during storms, football games, and other events where modern electronics don't always work. Gerald says safety is the biggest reason hams want more kids like Young to learn the craft.

"If there was like a hurricane I could contact people see if they need any help and contact local fire departments," Young said.

To learn more about hams click here.

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