” ‘It blew me away,’ Watson said, marvelling at how quickly someone who was so inaccessible from a communications network was found by an amateur radio operator.”
October 26, 2014
It blows me away that there is still an amateur radio network operating around the world in this age of internet social media. In somes ways, the amateur radio network is like a living ancestor to present-day social media. Amateur radio people do a lot of good by just being there, responding and relaying information. Today, this is also a good side to social media. Both can save lives, protect people and keep us company as human beings.
(By the way, Y2K, which is referred to in the following article was connected to the belief that the global computer network would crash on the early morning of January 1, 2000. In case some of you out there are just waking up from a prolonged sleep or coma, it never happened.)
Gulf Islands Driftwood
December 8, 1999
Island amateur radio operator participates in provincial test
by Tanya Lester
In the event of an emergency disaster, if the telephone lines are down, look for the amateur radio antenna around you, advises Drew Watson, B.C. Public Service Network manager.
Watson, who lives on Salt Spring, believes the antennae will not be difficult to find as there are about 90 amateur radio operators on the island.
Last Saturday, at the request of provincial emergency planners in the Attorney General’s office, Watson did a provincial path check to establish that amateur radio operators have a clear efficient means of communicating through the network in the event of an emergency such as Y2K.
“It was a no-nonsense business,” Watson said. “No chitchat, no interrupting. No one talking unless that person was asked something.”
Watson said that in an emergency situation, amateur radio operators would be expected to conduct themselves in this manner. They could be sending messages for the RCMP and hospital personnel if the telephone lines, including 911 services, go down.
Individuals who cannot contact their out-of-province call-in numbers through the telephone system to establish with other family members that they are safe will also call on the services of amateur radio operators.
Watson, who has lived on Salt Spring for 19 months, was in Lindsay, Ontario, which is 90 miles northeast of Toronto, during the ice storms in eastern Ontario and Quebec two years ago.
He remembers an amateur radio operator calling him from Cornwall Hospital, 100 miles west of Montreal, trying to locate a woman concerning a medical emergency.
Watson passed the information on to a Montreal radio operator.
Within 15 minutes, the radio operator had found her in a Montreal shelter.
“It just blew me away,” Watson said, marvelling at how quickly someone who was so inaccessible from a communications network was found by an amateur radio operator.
Watson said he hopes Y2K is “much ado about nothing” but amateur radio operators across the province are now more prepared for emergency possibilities.
He does a network control check every night between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., when amateur radio operators call in.
Watson’s call sign is VE3AAU. (The “VE” stands for Canada. The number “3” indicates Ontario. The “AAU” is Watson’s number.)
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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be bought from the author or by going to the title and author name (to read the first few pages and to buy it) go to amazon.com
Tanya Lester’s other books are Friends I Never Knew, Dreams & Tricksters, and Women Rights/Writes. They are available in some library systems and in the Legislative Library of Manitoba