THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: One lesson that the devastating floods have taught the state is the need to set up alternative communication channels when the traditional modes break down due to the rigours of the natural disaster. At a time when the mobile signals and internet break down, the next solution is ham radios. For the past several hours, ham radio operators have been helping the rescue teams plug communication lacunae by operating their devices.
About 10 ham operators are stationed in Chengannur, which was most severely affected by the flood, to help rescue workers save lives. Biju Gopi Thilak, vice president of Activehams Amateur Radio Society (AARS-KL), said they have set up a master control room and are assisting the Fire and Rescue Services personnel from Odisha and their Kerala counterparts to rescue stranded people from the interiors of Chengannur.
Hundreds of people have been saved by the rescue teams acting on the inputs provided by the ham operators. “We are using VHF (Very High Frequency) and HF (High Frequency) spectrum here. The radio wave is the only option to communicate when other modes falter. Hams can ensure a window to the outside world and ensure that one is not cut off from the outside world,” Biju said. Hams need limited scientific expertise to operate, limited space and are portable, which makes it one of the most-sought-after communication mode when the traditional ones break down.
Biju said each panchayat have been provided with a ham radio to face contingency, but most of them lay idle due to lack of ham operators. “Ideally there should be at least 10 ham operators in each panchayat. If a disaster strikes and the normal communication channels become useless, they can still contact each other and communicate with the outside world,” he said.