Amateur radio (or HAM) operators across southwest Missouri now have a resource to help repair or replace equipment through the Southern Missouri Emergency Communications Fund, established by the 145.49 Repeater Group.
The purpose of the fund is to provide financial support for the more than 4,000 amateur radio operators in southern Missouri. Michael Blake, president of the 49 Repeater Group and a board member for the Southern Missouri Emergency Communications Fund, says the group’s radio equipment is funded solely by its members, and costs can mount quickly for aged equipment.
Now the group is actively seeking private and corporate donors to support upgrades to a network of radios that help keep communities in touch and forewarned in times of bad weather and emergency.
“Most people in the community don’t realize that amateur radio is a vital ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground for the National Weather Service, and helps keep people safe,” Blake said. “NOAA weather radar doesn’t see what’s happening at every level of the atmosphere, particularly when the equipment is far away. Having trained weather spotters with private radio access on the ground is very important to staying informed.”
Amateur radio operators also are enlisted as backup by the Department of Homeland Security in disaster areas. This use was called into action for several days following the May 22, 2011 Joplin tornado in which amateur radio was a major means of communications within the disaster zone, Blake said. Operators helped coordinate everything from search and rescue to hospital availability in cities as far away as Tulsa.
Those interested in learning more about the Southern Missouri Emergency Communications Fund are welcome to e-mail Blake at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to make a donation to the Southern Missouri Emergency Communications Fund, you can do so at www.cfozarks.org/donate (please type SMO Emergency Comm) in the Fund/Program field on the page) or by mailing a donation to the Community Foundation of the Ozarks at P.O. Box 8960, Springfield, MO, 65801, indicating the fund in the memo line.