Two Way Radio in an Age of Cell Phones
A brief look at a map of cellphone coverage will show you that there are still many areas where cellphones are essentially useless. As a result there is one piece of equipment you should never leave home without if you are visiting one of these more remote areas, and that’s a radio. If you’re a resident, you probably understand the remoteness of your area and travel prepared, with extra food and water for example, and perhaps using more than one car. Visitors, however, often underestimate the power of nature and, especially if they come from cities may not realize how patchy, even non existent cellphone service can be.
Just last year, Hal Whiting, an amateur radio ‘ham’ from Utah, was travelling with friends in Arizona. Knowing the remote nature of the area he had taken his own precautions, but around 70 miles into his trip he was flagged down by another motorist asking for help as there was no service for his cellphone. Learning that the situation was an emergency, Whiting, the radio ‘ham’ broadcast for help; a woman had been injured when her all terrain vehicle had rolled on top of her; she was now conscious but in a lot of pain.
Whiting eventually reached a radio operator called McGee who lived some 50 miles from the accident. McGee called 911 and explained the problem to the Sheriff’s office who asked for GPS co-ordinates to the accident site. No-one could provide those, so Whiting’s co-driver drove to the site of the accident, using Whitings hand held radio’s to stay in touch with the rest of his party and, when he arrived, to relay information on the woman’s condition to Whiting who then relayed them by radio to McGee who relayed them to the 911 dispatcher. A helicopter was sent to take the woman to hospital in Las Vegas where she later recovered.
So many things were necessary to give this rescue a happy ending. We take communications for granted, but without them, even small incidents can become serious. Had Whiting not had his radio equipment with him, had McGee not been listening at the other end, had Whiting not had hand held radios available and working, the situation might have been very different. Cellphone coverage is not universaland, however with CB radio and amateur radio well established emergency guidelines are in place. Also as we have seen, as far as ham radio, someone is always listening. Do you need to know more about amateur or CB radio?
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