Ham radio operators in Iowa are continuing to relay vital information between victims’ advocates and relief agencies in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast states. With phone lines down, the “hams” in Iowa are playing an important role. Dick Lane, president of the Davenport Amateur Radio Club, says he’s been hearing heart-breaking stories and passing along the information to the authorities in New Orleans. There were a bunch of college students trapped in a building who called out on a cell phone, then the ham radio operator called a net control operator to get the information back into the effected area. Lane says hundreds of hams are on the job near the disaster area and are now one of the primary conduits for relaying life-saving bits of news. He’d heard of an old couple trapped in a building, one with heart problems, the other with respiratory problems, who were trying to get help. Dave Mayfield, another ham radio operator from Davenport, says the technology he’s using is decades old and very reliable — unlike the cell phones and even land lines we’ve come to rely upon. He says “When things really hit the fan, all the complicated electronics fall apart very rapidly because there’s a lot of infrastructure that has to be in place for that stuff to operate.” Mayfield says networks of ham operators have been on duty since the hurricane hit, helping family members find one another and delivering emergency messages.
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