Reaching the world

Sometimes the old fashioned way of doing
things is still the best way of doing things.
Take for instance ham radio operators. Their hobby is talking to each other via
amateur radio throughout the world, including the Cayman Islands.

They even have contests to see how many
people they can contact in one sitting.

And while ham radio is a hobby to many, the
operators become heroes of sorts when hurricanes are barrelling down.

When that happens ham operators become the
eyes and ears of the world and the National Hurricane Center in the United
States.

The Observer on Sunday has learned there
are more than 20 people in the Cayman Islands who are registered as amateur
radio operators.

During Hurricane Ivan in 2004 many of them
kept the outside world informed of the damage the storm caused and quelled rumours
about vast amounts of deaths.

The National Hurricane Center used
information from our ham radio operators to send out advisories during Ivan.

As storms approach land and at landfall,
the operators send observations of wind speed, direction, wind gusts,
barometric pressure, flooding and any other information that might assist the
National Hurricane Center get a better idea of the storm.

While the hurricane centre has a plethora
of fancy updated equipment, there is nothing better than the human eye on the
ground to give an accurate report of storm conditions.

Hams are so important to the weather centre
that they had a place of prominence at the National Hurricane Conference
earlier this year in Orlando, Florida.

Those who attended were told that they fill
the gap between technology and old fashioned communication. They also had it
affirmed that their ultimate goal during disaster situations is to help save
lives.

The hams also help keep overseas families
informed about the well being of loved ones here during the storm.

They can also serve as relay stations for
disasters in other countries.

While the men and women who have ham radio
as a hobby like to chat with others, they become valuable tools during all
sorts of disasters.

If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of
communicating with people all over the world, give the Cayman Amateur Radio
Society a shout. Yes, there is some learning and testing involved, but it all
adds up to fun and in the event of a storm you could be the voice that reaches
the rest of the world.

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