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The Importance of Ham Radio
When my brother got into ham radio about ten years ago, I thought it was...well, kind of dorky, to be honest, no offense to anyone! Sitting around talking on radios, when we had such sophisticated ways to communicate these days, seemed old-fashioned and boring. When I realized he talked to people from all over the world, that was kind of fascinating. Hams are a close-knit group and have all sorts of activities going on, so ok, I could see that it was fun and entertaining. So the more I learned about it, the more I could understand the interest in it. But what impressed me the most was something I had no idea about, and I thought others might not realize it either. It is the importance of ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services). This is an organization that provides training to hams for emergency situations. I have to point out though that this is not required and many hams help who have not gone through this training. It's just a valuable service to help them prepare for disaster situations.
These amateur radio operators are volunteers who help with emergency communications. They helped on the September 11 attacks and also when Hurricane Katrina hit, just to name two of the more recent disasters. Of course there are many, many more examples and this has been going on since the early 1900's. They are sometimes the only available communication in disaster situations. When I realized this part of ham radio, I have to say it really impressed me. It made me realize they are a very important group that are probably not given enough recognition for their efforts. Imagine that in this age of high tech communication devices that the "old-fashioned" ham radio would have such importance.
So, after my initial impression of dorksville (for which I am now ashamed of) I came to have a high regard and respect for these people. In addition to all of the other selfless people and organizations that help in disasters, the hams are right there too. I can't imagine being in such a disaster and then also being totally cut off from being able to contact anyone. It is truly, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects needed in a disaster situation. So let's give all ham radio operators and the emergency volunteers a big thanks.