Martin C. Evans

Ham radio helping with Haiti rescue

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Did the work of a Coast Guard Auxiliary who moonlights as a ham radio operator help rush aid to a local woman injured in Haiti’s earthquake?

(UPDATED SATURDAY, JAN. 17: Apparently his efforts were not a factor in this particular rescue. The victim’s brother was able to drive her to safety)

On Thursday, Ronald A. Tomo, the COMMs officer with Coast Guard Aux. Division 13 1SR, put out information to guide rescuers to the Haitian village where the woman – Jocelyne Sannon, of Westbury – had been visiting relatives.

But on Saturday, the woman’s husband, Lionel Sannon, said he received word that a brother-in-law had managed to drive her to U.S. officials in Port-au-Prince, and that she had been evacuated to a hospital in Jamaica.

But he said he appreciated Tomo’s effort.

Tomo, a vice president in the IT department at Nassau University Medical Center, had offered to broadcast rescue information on behalf of staff members at the medical center, where Sannon works. He said six NCMC staffers asked for his help.

“The ability to use technology to save lives is a very rewarding feeling,” Tomo said.

“They might not have even known to look for her there,” he said. “Its always nice in a disaster situation when you can put someone’s mind at ease.”

Tomo, whose call sign is KE2UK, said the message was relayed though a ham further out on Long Island, who relayed it to an operator in Portugal. The message was passed on from there.

Ham operators often do not make direct contact with the intended target, instead relaying messages through networks of volunteers. That is because radio communications are influenced by variations in the ionic field that flows past Earth, meaning indirect paths are often the best.

The AARL, an association of amateur radio operators, posted a message on its website encouraging ham volunteers who want to assist with the Haitian relief effort to be aware of the emergency operations on the following frequencies: 7.045 and 3.720 MHz (IARU Region 2 nets), 14.265, 7.265 and 3.977 MHz (SATERN nets), and 14.300 MHz (Intercontinental Assistance and Traffic Net); the International Radio Emergency Support Coalition (IRESC) is also active on EchoLink node 278173.

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