Amateur radio operators tune in vital network

Published: Jun. 25, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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GAUTIER, Miss. (WLOX) -“CQ. CQ.” That’s what amateur radio operators say when they open the mic to talk to someone.

This weekend, that phrase and others were going out over the air waves across the nation and even in Canada. Here on the Coast, the Jackson County Amateur Radio Association also got keyed up and set up for their annual field day event. In this scenario, a natural disaster has impacted all communications in South Mississippi.

“We are off the internet. We’re in the dark,” said Charlie Hardt.

That means these Jackson County amateur radio operators are the only ears and voices able to send and receive messages and communicate vital information to the outside world.

“We send emails. We have digital communications with other amateurs,” Hardt said.

While this is a field day disaster drill, this type of communication was critical in the hours and days after Hurricane Katrina.

“That was quite a time. I knew a number of amateurs who were getting health and welfare messages out. I knew a colleague who used his tractor battery to help get messages out,” Hardt added. “We have a message network across North America. The status, and whether they need to come down here.”

You could call them communication first responders, as they tune in the right frequency and provide a much needed service in times of trouble and when the air is clear, but the message needs delivery.

“We feel a sense of duty to our country. To our community.”

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