If you thought Ham radio was about setting up and tuning complicated electronic gadgets and communicating to strangers over radio waves using esoteric codes for private recreation, then think again.

Notwithstanding the advances in technology enabling instant communication and penetration of mobile devices across the globe, Ham radios are still the preferred mode of communication during natural disasters and motorsport rallies.

During the recent Uttarakhand floods, three Hams from the State were instrumental in establishing communication with the local district administration in the Himalayan terrains to enable better coordination for civilian relief. Meet VU3GDS, VU3HVD and VU3HBT. These are the mandatory call signs with which Girish Doss, Vishwas and Rahul identify themselves while signing in. (Each Ham is allocated with a unique call sign for identification and communication on acquiring the Ham licence.)

The three — called Ham Heroes — for their contribution to Uttarakhand relief operations were felicitated by the Indian Institute of Hams at a workshop held here on Saturday.

All three from Bangalore were among the first Hams to reach Uttarakhand and establish a communication link from remote areas. Communicating to the master control centre established at Dehra Dun, they relayed messages to the local district administration which took appropriate measures to reach out to the stranded. “On establishing communication network, we would relay the message to the master controls at Dehra Dun and the message in turn would be passed on to the district administration. The volunteers of Bharat Scouts and Guides would then reach out to the stranded persons in remote places,” according to Mr. Rahul, who is a structural engineer and has his own consultancy firm.

The Army and the Air Force was already operating and airlifting pilgrims in a major relief and rescue operations and nobody had access to these places. But there were other places where the local community needed help and amateur radio was almost the first in line of communication for them.

Girish Doss, a software engineer, obtained his Ham radio licence when he was only 12 years and worked during Gujarat earthquake, December 2004 Tsunami and now the 2013 Uttarakhand floods. Mr. Vishwas too is a software professional. S. Sathyapal, Director, IIH, said though there were nearly 3,000 Hams in Bangalore alone, it was difficult to get volunteers during disasters. For details on how to become a Ham, call IIH on 080 2664501 or 9448302677 or write to ham738@gmail.com

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