Radio operators serve as the primary point of communication when traditional methods are offline.
LANCASTER, Pa. – Local amateur radio operators play a critical role in emergency response in south-central Pennsylvania. When an emergency arises, whether related to the weather, terrorism or even a cyberattack, these local organizations are called upon to act.
The South Central Task Force is made up of volunteers from nine counties in Pennsylvania, including Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Schuylkill and York counties. The task force works together to prepare for and respond to disasters.
Duane Hagelgans is the Public Information Officer for the South Central Task Force.
“A lot of times we’ll open up what we call our multi-agency coordination center, which is right here at the training center, and bring our people together to help coordinate,” Hagelgans told Lancaster County FOX43. Public security center. “Several years ago, we started to realize that there are times when our normal communication channels are down. So how are we going to communicate when these systems are down?”
This is where amateur radio operators come in.
According to Jay Silber of the National Association for Amateur Radio, there are nearly 30,000 licensed amateur radio operators in Pennsylvania.
“When there is an urgent problem, whether it is a flood or an ice storm or a hurricane or a tornado, we are activated, that is to say that the ARES members are activated by the agency serviced in our county, ”he says.
Emergency agencies, such as the South Central Task Force, use these operators as primary or secondary lines of communication to coordinate services and report on the emergency itself.
“Hurricane Sandy was a good example a few years ago. Electricity was cut off everywhere, ”explains Silber. “Amateur radio operators were helping emergency management people maintain communications.
The groups regularly conduct exercises to prepare for future emergencies. And they are always looking for more volunteers to help them in their efforts.
If you would like to join the South Central Task Force, you can contact the local emergency management agency in your county.
There are also local amateur radio clubs in each county that can help you learn the ins and outs of radio communication. They can help you learn more about the equipment and prepare you for the exams needed to become a certified radio operator.
Silber also has a series on YouTube highlighting what amateur radio operators are doing for those who are interested in getting involved.
Silber told FOX43 that anyone interested in science, technology, engineering or math as well as serving their community would be a good choice.