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Ham Radio Emergency Preparedness

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Published on Mar 17, 2011

COWICHAN VALLEY - The disaster in Japan has many people on Vancouver Island wondering how we would handle the same thing.

In an emergency like that communication is key, but internet cell phones and land lines would likely be knocked out.

That's when emergency responders would take a step back in time and marshal our resources using a decades-old technology that most of us wouldn't even know how to operate.

Dale Jones is one of about 400 ham radio operators in the Cowichan Valley. He belongs to the Cowichan valley amateur radio society - a group active in emergency preparedness.

In these days of cell phones, texting, Facebook and Twitter, the gear may seem little antiquated, but it's not. And in times of disaster - ham radio might be the only way to communicate.

Unlike the internet or phone system, each ham radio station acts independently - a crucial aspect in an emergency.

Jones says his station would work for two weeks with battery power - and much longer with a generator - just one advantage of radio over telephone during a disaster.

Since the triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and radiation there's been an increased interest in emergency preparedness.

At the Kerry Park Rec Centre in mill bay, the South End Senior's Social Club has invited Sybille Sanderson from the regional district's public safety department.

Sanderson says in an emergency, communication is vital and amateur radio operators will play a crucial role.

Ham radio can be regarded as a fun hobby, but it could mean the difference between life and death in the event of disaster.

Follow Jonathan Bartlett on Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/ANewsJonathan

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