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Amateur radio operators support statewide weather emergency exercise

Amateur radio operators faced heavy rain as they set up communications at the Delaware State Service Center in Milford. Shown are (l-r) Chuck Betyeman, Milton; Rod Eikenberry, Laurel; and Mason Smawley, Ellendale. SUBMITTED PHOTOS
September 10, 2017

Amateur radio operators all over Delaware spent Aug. 12 providing backup communications for the Delaware State Full Scale Emergency Exercise. This major drill was sponsored by the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and simulated a Category 3 hurricane which brought damage and flooding across the peninsula.

More than 75 amateurs, or hams, volunteered their time and specialized radio equipment to participate in the event.

Hams were stationed at state and county emergency operations centers in all three Delaware counties, and at special locations established to provide meals and disaster support to simulated storm victims. In addition to conventional stations in New Castle, Wilmington, Smyrna, Georgetown, Lewes, Dover and Seaford, temporary stations were set up in Newark, Saint Georges and Milford.

Delaware hams annually conduct a statewide emergency communications test, but they normally do so in October. The opportunity to team up with the state for this full-scale drill convinced Delaware's amateur radio leadership that this was a perfect setup for very realistic training.

Training and readiness are essential elements of amateur radio, as emphasized by the American Radio Relay League, aka the National Association for Amateur Radio. The exercise gave hams more experience and helped them prepare for a time when they may be called upon to provide communications support in an actual disaster.

Ham radio is a great hobby and a powerful emergency communications tool. For more information, contact Bill Duveneck at 302-537-4755 or kb3khy@arrl.org.