Ham radio operators worldwide have remained active in relaying important information to rescuers responding to the deadly Nepal earthquake–and even before the quake, enthusiasts in Nepal had the opportunity to train for just such an emergency.
The technology may predate computers, GPS devices, and smartphones, but it’s always there when necessary.
And for Nepal, amateur radio technology may be exactly what the region needs at this very moment. Among the most active volunteers in the wake of the deadly 7.9-magnitude earthquake that hit the South Asian country have been ham radio operators, particularly those located in Nepal and nearby India. Enthusiast groups worldwide have been working to connect the stranded to the outside world.
“Ham radio enthusiasts and volunteers in the city have been receiving calls from people, seeking information about those stranded in Nepal. They are volunteering as a third-party to provide whatever possible help,” Lion Ajoy, a former president of the Bangalore Amateur Radio Club, told the Times of India.
Ham radio operators in these regions have remained particularly active in recent years. The Nepal Amateur Radio Society, for example, has managed to gain momentum due in part to its close work with the country’s National Society for Earthquake Technology. The government agency installed a radio repeater in 2012, with the financial backing of the U.S. chapter of the Computer Association of Nepal. The society has helped train amateur radio operators in preparation for a potential earthquake—training that came in handy after Saturday’s quake, believed to be the country’s strongest in 80 years.
According to the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), a U.S. nonprofit group for amateur radio enthusiasts, local broadcasters have been able to assist with emergency communication at a time when internet access is spotty at best.
“Hams from India and other countries have set an example to provide essential communication during disasters,” Jayu Bhide of the Amateur Radio Society of India told ARRL. “The coordination and cooperation have also demonstrated [there is] one world, one language.”
The quake, which has killed more than 4,600 people since Saturday, has directly affected more than 8 million people, according to CNN.
Beyond the Nepal quake, ARRL members have remained an active part of public service in the United States, with broadcasters playing active roles during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and during numerous weather emergencies.