Ocean Springs helps ham operators send life saving messages

By Patrice Clark- bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The calls signs used in amateur radio operating may sound a bit confusing to some. Ham operator Bill Musa feels it's a reliable and easy way to communicate.

"This gets right back to basics," Musa said. "This is sending emergency information or sends routine information."

Once a week, Musa and five ham operators take turns working out of the message center at Ocean Springs City Hall. Musa said he usually gives the radio a test run, and he sends a message over the air waves.

"We want to make sure the equipment works. You don't want to drag the equipment out of the closet four years from now when we are threatened with a category one hurricane."

Emergency Management Director Kimberlyn Prentice said she is grateful to the city for opening its doors to this operation and buying some of the high tech equipment.

"We have the Cadillac of systems," Prentice said.

When various forms of communication fail, like cell phones, Prentice said citizens have to depend on amateur radios.

"As we discovered with Katrina, cell phones are just as prone to breaking or power disruption as our land lines or electricity."

Prentice and Musa said they're confident Ocean Springs is now equipped to take action during the next large scale emergency. Prentice said the communication equipment cost $4,000, and an Ocean Springs resident donated a tall tower to the city, which will help ham operators transmit messages.

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