Tennessee General Assembly recently issued a proclamation honoring amateur radio operators and recognizing the contributions they make to the emergency management of counties throughout the state.
In response to the state-wide proclamation, E-911 director Suzi Haston and White County Office of Emergency Management director Matt McBride presented the White County Amateur Radio Club with a copy of the proclamation as well as expressing their thanks and gratitude.
“These volunteers are a vital part of ensuring that our communities are taken care of, especially when disaster strikes,” County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson said.
Robinson stated that the proclamation recognizes the group of volunteers for what they do as well as what they can do for all emergency responders and communicators.
“Thank you to all of our local ham operators,” he said. “We look forward to working together to ensure White County is prepared for whatever comes our way.”
Amateur radio operators are also known as radio amateurs or hams. The term “ham” is a nickname for amateur radio operators that was first heard, in 1909, by operators in commercial and professional radio communities. The word was subsequently embraced by the operators, and stuck.
Mike Henry accepted the proclamation on behalf of all the volunteer amateur radio operators in White County. Henry, who is a member of the White County Amateur Radio Club, said that ham operators have their own network and are able to relay information, not just to central dispatch but also directly to each other or, if needed, they can relay information directly to Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, in Nashville, in the event of an emergency.
“We are also trained storm spotters,” he said. “We know how to search for storm damage and can use our mobile equipment to report it.”
Matt McBride, White County Emergency Management Agency director, said that knowing there are radio operators in all areas of the county in the event an emergency should take out his department’s communication lines is a safety net for which he is grateful.
“They use an analog channel, so they can operate even when our communications are down, or we can rely on them if we have an abundance of resources and need more channels of communication,” McBride said. “They are a huge asset to our emergency response procedures as a county.”
Henry said at any given time there are over 20 radio operators available throughout the county and, that while they haven’t had to work with E-911 yet, a plan of preparedness is in place.
“Whenever disaster strikes, we are ready to jump in and help,” he said.
Henry encouraged anyone interested in becoming an amateur radio operator to check out the White County group’s website at whitecountyarc.org and to reach out to any of the members.
“We invite anybody to ask questions. Any of us would be glad to help anyone if they wanted to become a ham operator,” he said. “It is not that expensive, and it is easy to get set up.”
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