Casey discusses ham radio history and importance
By Susan Harrison
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce members of the Gun Barrel City chapter were advised by Henderson County Amateur Radio Emergency Services Coordinator Rich Casey to purchase a weather radio as the first step in being prepared for bad weather and possible tornadoes.
“The radios are of better quality and can be programmed for a specific area in your county,” Casey said. “For Henderson County, they can be programmed for east or west Henderson County.”
He explained the difference between a tornado watch (something can happen and be prepared) and a tornado warning (something has happened).
“Most tornadoes come out of a super cell,” Casey explained. “It doesn’t pop out.”
Preceding a tornado are strong winds with updrafts and downdrafts. If cloud rotation starts, followed by the wall cloud (funnel cloud) dropping and touching the ground, then it is a tornado.
“Do not open the house windows, go to an interior room without windows or go to a bathtub and cover your head with something like a bucket or bike helmet,” Casey advised. “Most injuries to the head are from flying debris.”
A car cannot outrun a tornado said Casey. Do not get under an underpass. The tornado creates suction and will pull the car from the underpass.
Other recommended actions for tornado preparedness include:
• develop a tornado emergency plan with your family and discuss where to seek shelter,
• understand the siren warning system,
• know where the first-aid kit, fire extinguishers, utility switches or valves are located,
• teach family members how to administer first aid, use a fire extinguishers and how to turn off utilities,
• know the emergency dismissal policy for your child’s school,
• make sure your children know their parents full names,
• educate your children on preparing for tornadoes and what to do,
• program all family member telephone numbers in all telephones,
• add a telephone entry named ICE (In Case of Emergency) that can be used by first responders,
• obtain an Amateur Radio license,
• keep information handy on any family members with disabilities or special needs,
• practice your emergency plan,
• store important documents, and
• document important information and tell family members where it is stored.
Casey serves as the vice president of the Cedar Creek Amateur Radio Club and his personal call letters are K5CCL.
“We have about 26 members and our membership is increasing as more and more people become interested in ham radios,” Casey said. “Amateur radio was the ‘first Internet.’”
One hundred years later, ham radio is a worldwide service. Anyone can get a license and talk on a ham radio.
“The term ‘ham’ became a moniker when certain individuals wanted to get the ‘hams’ off of the hand radios,” Casey explained “It has stuck with us as ham radio operators.”
The astronauts at the international station are also ham operators. The Federal Communications Commission sets up the radio bands for the ham operators and now the operators can also connect with the Internet.
“We exist for emergency communications,” Casey said. “There were 250 ham operators helping with the runners at the Boston Marathon.”
When the bombs went off, ham operators helped with security and getting runners off of the tracks.
The Cedar Creek club now has a repeater who moniters a specific channel and will retransmit signals to boats and cars.
Echo Link connects to the Internet, goes to the repeater, then transmits weather info to the ham operators in Henderson County.
“The meteorologists at the Fort Worth Emergency Warning System love us,” Casey said. “We are too far for their representatives and we can report weather information to them.”
Local ham operators are storm spotters not storm chasers. The operators report from their homes.
“Easter morning was the first time we connected with Fort Worth and it worked well,” Casey explained. “They were able to listen to us about our weather and report on it.”
Volunteer firemen are also trained storm spotters and are taught how to report locations to the meteorologists.
Member Ed Busch said the Homeland Security loves the ham operators also, because no one can jam their transmissions.
In other business:
• Harbor Point Property Owners Association member Leslie Casey advised attendees to get to know their neighbors and their cars for crime watching with the opening of more pawn shops in the area,
• chamber president Jo Ann Hanstrom said that sign-up for the 2013-14 Cedar Creek Lake Area Leadership course will be soon. Cost is $350 for a half-day, one time a month for nine months and is limited to 12 members,
• Bella Maison Carpet Cleaning, 24/7 Water Damage Extraction & Restoration owner Ruth van der Plas won a weather radio, and
• Leslie Casey reported that Gun Barrel City Beautification Committee president Barbara Webster has 96 businesses signed up to participate in picking-up 10 pieces of trash each Tuesday.