HAMS IN CALIFORNIA
When hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, amateur radio operators rushed in to take over the crippled communication system left in the storms wake.
Sgt. Tim Lotspeich of the Barstow sheriff station, a licensed radio operator himself, watched and decided to adopt the old technology, HAM radios, into a new emergency-communication program in the High Desert.
Amateur radio, at least for the first couple of days, was the only reliable communication, Sgt. Lotspeich said of the Katrina disaster. And in the event of an emergency, we're really going to rely on volunteers with the proper license.
Lotspeich is recruiting Barstow residents, licensed to operate a short wave radio, to volunteer as part of an emergency-communication system. He said if the sheriff's regular radio system, dependent on mountain top repeater sites across the desert, were to go down, short wave, UHF and VHF radios would be the only way to communicate between the Trona, Baker and Barstow stations. Volunteers are needed to operate the radios, relaying and receiving communications sent through the ionosphere, while the sheriff's deputies assist with the emergency on the ground.
About a couple hundred people in Barstow have the proper license to operate a radio, Lotspeich said. He is hoping to get about 10 volunteers. During fires in the San Bernardino Mountains, amateur radio operators helped fire officials transmit communications.
This is new to us, but its been used and worked all over the country for decades, Lotspeich said.