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During a disaster, these amateur radio operators could offer a key lifeline

On April 16, Hawaii’s ham radio enthusiasts will perform their biggest drill ever.
Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 4:17 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 14, 2022 at 4:33 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Every year, Stacy Holbrook and Hawaii’s other amateur radio operators train for worst-case scenarios, when all other communication systems are knocked out and they’re called on to broadcast alerts and information.

“We’d like to people to know that we are an option, If worst case we have to do something we can do it,” he said.

On April 16, Hawaii’s ham radio enthusiasts will perform their biggest drill ever, testing FEMA’s Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program during a mock mass emergency.

“It’s going to be a catastrophic storm, flood, wind event. All the power lines are down. All the cell towers are down,” Holbrook said.

The radio operators will transmit messages using battery backups or generators through systems that don’t rely on cell towers or the internet.

“If it ever happens you’re not panicking and stressing. You’ve got your systems up,” he said. “You know they work and you can pass messages.”

This will be the first time this test will be performed statewide anywhere in the United States.

“It helps us be on the same communication levels, same forms, same acronyms as those agencies that we use like the Red Cross, hospitals and emergency operations centers,” Holbrook said.

He’s urging all of Hawaii’s 3,800 ham radio operators to participate in the one-day dress rehearsal even if all they have is a small hand-held radio.

“This radio cost me $30. And this can be a lifeline,” he said, holding up a palm-sized unit.

To find out more about the exercise, go to the Amateur Radio Emergency Service website.

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