Amateur radio operators prepare for Tropical Storm Hermine

Ham radio operators preparing for Tropical Storm Hermine

Many amateur radio operators are stepping in to help emergency workers during Tropical Storm Hermine.

The radio operators are volunteers who provide a variety of services, including emergency communications for state and federal agencies when storms hit.

With Tropical Storm Hermine making its way toward Florida, dozens of amateur radio operators are standing by.

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“We certainly hope that we’re never needed, but we’re ready to go,” said Clay County Amateur Radio Emergency Services Training Officer Joe Bassett.

He said they are getting ready to answer the call if land lines, cell phones or the internet fail.

“Amateur radio, because it relies on air waves and doesn’t rely on infrastructure at all, can always step in when all else fails," Bassett said.

Amateur radio emergency service volunteers like Bassett are scattered throughout counties in Northeast Florida. They’re deployed at the request of government agencies.

“Say a shelter needs to have more cots or supplies delivered. We would pass that information via radio to the emergency operations center," Bassett said.

The operators can be set up inside or they can be mobile. Bassett said he has a special go-kit that he can use.

“I can just pop a cover on the front and on the back and have that within my truck within a moment’s notice," he said. "I will even practice packing it up and having it ready to go and I’m down to under 7 minutes.”

And if he’s driving, Bassett said he can use a special radio to talk and do much more.

"In mine in particular I can do worldwide communications or things locally," he said. "Even if the internet were to go down, I could send emails using my radios in my truck.”

Bassett said many times amateur radio volunteers are ready to go but never used.

"We’re thankful for that. But we pride ourselves being ready to go,” he said.

Emergency radio operators in Clay, Putnam, Nassau, Duval and St Johns form a larger regional group. Last week they all gathered for a training session.