AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When most people think of amateur radio, they tend to think of a hobby.
But, with severe weather season around the corner, those radio operators may keep residents safe when a disaster hits.
Friday was International Amateur Radio Day and local ham operators showcased their skills at a demonstration at ITT Technical Institute on Meridian Road,
“It started when I was 13 and I’m 75,” said amateur radio operator Allan Avnet.
But he is anything but an amateur.
“I’ve got equipment that works out of my vehicle,” Avnet said.
Most people have seen the cars with the excessive antenna. Those antennas are not being used to pick up a favorite song in another city. In fact, those antennas may be used to communicate with other people from halfway around the world.
Whether it’s called amateur radio or ham radio, it’s essentially the same thing. When severe weather season hits, they are some of the first people emergency personnel look to for help.
When the Girard tornado hit a couple of years ago, the radio operators were dispatched to help keep emergency officials in contact during and after the storm.
“When disasters happen, we’re usually the only ones that work,” Avnet said.
Although most amateur radio operators are not professional storm chasers, most of them have plenty of training under their belts to help them help the public.
“There’s usually annually about a three-hour course we go through,” said amateur radio operator Wes Boyd.
So whether these amateur radio operators are on to talk to other radio operators from around the world or helping to keep people safe during a disaster, they enjoy it either way.