Typhoon Haiyan Press Release
In and effort to promote the efforts of Philippines’ radio amateurs providing primary communications links since Typhoon Haiyan swept through the nation, and the promotion of amateur radio as a fallback communications service in natural and other disasters, the WIA prepared the media release reproduced below and distributed it to mass media news networks on the morning of 15 November.
Roger Harrison - VK2ZRH
Philippines’ Radio Hobbyists Give Vital Help Through Typhoon Haiyan Disaster.
With communications and electricity infrastructure knocked out by Typhoon Haiyan across the east-central Philippines, local amateur radio operators put their hobby equipment and communication skills to work providing vital links for emergency and government agencies.
Under incredibly difficult conditions, Ham Radio Emergency Operations (HERO) stations have been helping authorities and residents in Tacloban, the hardest-hit city and capital of Leyte, since Friday 8th November.
Working as volunteers, three local radio hams set up a HERO station on the second floor of the Tacloban city hall, operating on the seven megahertz shortwave amateur band to provide long-distance communications around the region to agencies and centres outside the typhoon-affected area.
Ramon Anquilan (callsign DU1UGZ), from the Philippines Amateur Radio Association (PARA), reported that the Tacloban HERO station has been used by the Red Cross to track a relief vehicle, verifying the welfare of its volunteers when their vehicle was stopped and ransacked by typhoon victims impatient for aid to arrive.
Mr Anquilan said that HERO operators also used very high frequency (VHF) transceivers for short-range communications around the local area of Tacloban, to verify information ‘on the ground’, and to liaise and to coordinate with other agencies working there.
Other ham radio operator volunteers have set up communications facilities using their own equipment in other areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan (called Yolanda in the Philippines), providing vital services to government and aid workers. These include ham radio stations in Borongan in eastern Samar; at Palo south of Tacloban City; in Bantayan at the northern tip of Cebu Island; on Negros Leyte Island at Dumaguate City 300 km southwest of Tacloban City; and 250 km south of Tacloban in Tagbilaran City – which was devastated by a 7.2 intensity earthquake on 15 October.
The ham radio emergency stations are continuing to provide support as government and aid organisations are reaching devastated areas across the 36 affected provinces. Mr Anquilan said that the relief and retrieval operations are moving slowly and the HERO operations are probably going to last into next week.
“As the primary telecoms services are restored, there will be less reliance on the amateur radio service in Tacloban”, he said. “This will mean a more difficult period, because the remote areas not reached yet by government and other agencies will now demand communications links. Our assets will be thinly spread”.
Mr Anquilan advised that radio hams across the Philippines had made preparations to provide emergency communications ahead of Typhoon Haiyan, and were able to swing into action once it was safe to do so.
About Amateur Radio
Amateur radio is a global hobby, with hams licensed by government authorities in most countries. There are some three million licensed amateur radio operators around the world.
Radio amateurs are people from all walks of life interested in communicating with other licensed amateurs, and in experimenting with and learning about modern technologies involved in the burgeoning fields of radio communications and information technology – ordinary people with more-than-ordinary interests.
In times of crisis and natural disasters anywhere in the world, amateur radio is often used as a means of emergency communications when telephone landlines, mobile phones and other conventional means of communications fail. Radio hams are dispersed throughout the community and are not dependent on infrastructure that can fail or be overloaded. Their hobby equipment, their technical and operational skills and experience often provide a vital resource when all else has failed.
Obtaining a licence requires passing examinations in specific technical and regulatory subjects. The amateur licence provides radio amateurs access to a select series of frequency bands throughout the radiofrequency spectrum so that they can pursue their hobby across a vast array of particular interests. The frequency bands are coordinated internationally to enable intercommunication between licensed amateurs of different nations. Amateur radio is unlike CB radio, as CB operators are not licensed and are restricted to using type-approved equipment on only one or two narrow frequency bands.
Jim Linton VK3PC
Chairman, International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee
Phil Wait VK2ASD
President, Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA)
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