Ham radios to the rescue in rain-hit Thrissur district

Illustration by Satheesh Vellinezhi   | Photo Credit: Illustration by Satheesh Vellinezhi

Even as the incessant rain and resultant flooding disrupted lives across the central regions of the State, ham radio enthusiasts have quietly swung into action in Thrissur district, setting up their unique work stations to ensure a steady stream of communication in case nature's fury wreaked havoc on conventional systems of contact.

The district administration has sought the service of ham radio operators to coordinate disaster relief operations in case the communication system gets cut off due to any rain-related incident.

"Communication often turns out to be a major challenge when natural calamities strike. During heavy floods, there are chances that the power supply will be down for days, which affects the communication systems, including mobile phones," says Sarachandran C.S., a former merchant navy officer-turned-ham radio operator.

He is one of the 10 operators hired by the Thrissur administration to handle emergency communication in case of any untoward incident. All the operators possess Amateur Station Individual Operator licence issued by the Union Government.

All the taluks offices in Thrissur district are currently equipped with radio facilities so that even when all other communication systems are down, emergency services can be contacted and details shared.

Handy in 2018

The services of ham radio operators were utilised during the 2018 August deluge when almost the entire State was ravaged.

“Power connection was lost in most parts. This affected mobile communication in many places. Our service was sought by the district administration. Over 40 ham radio operators worked and helped at least 2,000 people during the floods that year," says Mr. Sarachandran.

From remote places where people are stranded and are unable to communicate with the outer world when their mobile phones don’t work, ham radio operators can track the last location of their phone's signal, based on which they try to locate the person, says another ham operator.

They use high frequency signals to connect with other operators. "It is basically an amateur radio set that is used for non-commercial exchange of messages, private recreation, self-training, emergency communication and so on," he says.

There are various types of ham radios depending on battery capacity, ranging from 10 W to 60 W. While a 10 W radio set can transmit messages within a range of 10-15 km, the 60W can do that up to 100 km.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 11:29:49 AM |

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