A Ham Radio Operator Talks About Emergency Radio Service After the Joplin Tornado

If you’ve ever been curious about how ham radio operators provide emergency radio service in the aftermath of a disaster, yesterday’s DestinySurvival Radio will give you an inside look from one man’s experience. My guest was Joe Casler, amateur radio call sign KC0WGB. We talked about his public service in the wake of the massive tornado that obliterated part of Joplin, MO, and took the lives of 162 people on May 22, 2011.

 

Devastation after Joplin Tornado

 

Joe and I are members of the Central Missouri Radio Association (CMRA), a ham radio club in Columbia, MO. At the July meeting, Joe gave a talk and slide presentation on his service in Joplin a couple weeks after the tornado blew through. He agreed to do an interview with me for DestinySurvival Radio and share some pictures.

 

A Point Worth Noting

Let this sink in for a bit. Joe’s services were needed two weeks after the Joplin tornado. The services of the Red Cross, Southern Baptist relief groups and numerous agencies were still required as well.

So often we hear sensational media stories about disasters, but then they fade away. That by no means indicates the troubles and recovery are over. Ask anyone who’s been through Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy. Hundreds of volunteers put in thousands of hours doing nitty gritty logistical tasks on the ground before recovery can begin in earnest.

The point is, for you and me, having a three day kit is barely a beginning. You may find yourself in a situation that calls for weeks of food and supplies. Or you may have to evacuate to a shelter or other temporary housing. Be as ready as you can be, and be as adaptable as you know how to be.

 

Joe the Ham Radio Operator

That doesn’t quite have the same ring as Joe the Plumber, does it?

Joe became a ham radio operator in 2006 after retirement. A friend talked him into getting licensed. Within a couple of years, he had his Extra Class license, the highest of the three license classes. His experience with public service in the Civil Air Patrol spurred him to public service in ham radio.

 

Messages and Traffic

Without getting too complicated, there’s a structured system ham radio operators use for sending and receiving certain kinds of messages. Messages are referred to as traffic. They’re passed from one ham to another on nets, short for networks.

Messages can be passed on any part of the ham radio frequency spectrum. Joe’s service in Joplin was on 2 meters–frequencies between 144 and 148 MHz. That’s above the FM band on your radio.

 

Ham radio equipment

 

Ham radio fills a significant gap during and after emergencies. Cell phones and other technologies we count on can fail or simply not be usable.

Joe’s few days in Joplin weren’t adrenaline-pumping dramatic. He served as net control operator with SATERN, the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Net. He relayed messages related to the functions of canteens on wheels that supplied water, food and other supplies to people in need.

 

Water drop off

 

On the Ground

Pictures hint at the devastation left by the monster tornado.

 

More Joplin Devastation

 

Debastated trees

 

The community pulled together to help one another. If there was any looting, it was long over when Joe arrived.

Volunteers came from several hours distance to help out. Joe himself drove about four hours. Joe says food and accommodations were good, too. The community was very supportive of the efforts done on their behalf.

 

Credentials

If you’re interested in becoming involved with ham radio public service efforts, Joe says get all the training you can. Of course, get your license, which is much easier than it used to be. The groups you serve will appreciate your completion of instruction from ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League) and FEMA. Relevant links are below.

Once you become a ham, get involved with a local club and any radio nets in your area. Listen, learn, and participate. And make new friends–like Joe.

 

Find Out More

Hear my interview with Joe Casler by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for August 29, 2013. You’ll find out more than I can share here. Want to know what Joe found to be creepy?

For more info on resources Joe and I referred to, check out the following:

  • Get an overview on the Joplin tornado from Wikipedia here.
  • Info about SATERN can be found here.
  • For info about ARRL, the ARES organization, traffic handling, and public service training as a ham radio operator, go here.
  • Info on FEMA ICS training courses is here.
  • Find other communications related links under Survival Communications in my Links of Interest page.
Have you served in a public service role after a disaster? Did you help with communications, or did you interact with those who did? Leave a comment and tell me and other readers about it.

A bit of trivia for you. Joe ended our interview by saying “73.” That’s ham radio lingo for “best regards.” So 73 to you, my reader.

 

Comments are closed.

DestinySurvival Dispatch

Let's keep in touch. Subscribe to the FREE DestinySurvival Dispatch.

We respect your email privacy

E-mail services powered by AWeber.

DestinySurvival Radio

Listen to DestinySurvival Radio each Thursday. No new program this week in observance of the holidays. Look for an all new show January 8th.

Click here to listen to or download the show of your choice.

DestinySurvival Radio is replayed on the Prepper Broadcasting Network and Survival Central Radio. My thanks to these networks. Find a variety of other prepping podcasts from these outlets as well.

Ready Made Resources
Ready Made Resources
Categories
Prep Mart Spotlight
Shop HandyPantry.com Today!

Click here to find more DestinySurvival sponsors in the Prep Mart with quality products for prepping.

Special Offers

Buy the herbal adventure board game Wildcraft! for the holidays.

Holiday Season Special: 120 Serving Bucket 20% Off at BuyEmergencyFoods.com + Free Shipping.

It's the Customer Appreciation Sale to say Thank You for a great 2014 at The Ready Store.

$10 OFF Your Order of $25 or More. Use Coupon Code: GIFT by 12/31 at Harmony House Foods.

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared - 25-40 % Off All Mountain House Cans

The Christmas Sale is on - See today's Nitro-Pak-Specials

Bass Pro Shops - It's Not Too Late! Receive Your Order By Christmas

Get 8% off + Free Shipping on all orders at GoalZero!* Use code: GZ8FREE. Ends 12/31/14. *Restrictions apply. Shop now!

Amazon Purchases

You may buy from Amazon once again here, and you can have the satisfaction of knowing those purchases help to keep this site available to all.

ENTER AMAZON

International Shipping

International Shipping

Bug Out Survival System
Bug Out Survival Training
1800Prepare
Click now to get PREPARED!
FlareAware
FlareAware.com
Debt Proof Living
Take control of your financial future!
Pantry Paratus
Grow Your Own Groceries
Freeze Dry Guy

Big End of Year CASE LOT Sale!

Freeze Dry Guy

Free Food & Medicine
Spark Naturals
Spark Naturals

Use coupon code destinysurvival at checkout.

Urban Survival Course
Survival Course
SurvivAMINO
Destiny Survival
USParaBand
USParaband.com
It’s A Disaster!
It's A Disaster!