Pittsburgh Beginner Radio Group Celebrates 80 Years of Emergency Catastrophe Communication | leisure
PITTSBURGH – After eight decades of volunteer emergency communications during some of the worst storms and disasters in the region, members of the Steel City Amateur Radio Club sang the airwaves earlier this month to sing their own praises.
The club, with around 60 members, held a special event station every day in its clubhouse in Collier. They spent the week taking turns sending messages to other radio amateurs around the world and sharing the news of their 80th anniversary.
“Our club is able to provide emergency communications services to the community when needed,” said Bob Mente, 56, emergency coordinator for the Allegheny County Amateur Radio Service. “We have state-of-the-art radios and antennas in our clubhouse and a backup generator that provides power if the main power grid fails.”
The Steel City Amateur Radio Club is an official relay station for the Allegheny County Amateur Radio Emergency Service. Partner agencies are the Pittsburgh Red Cross and the Office of the National Weather Service in Moon.
Amateur radio – also known as amateur radio – is a hobby that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk around the city, around the world, or even in space without using the internet or cell phones.
Although these radio amateurs are hobbyists, they provide extremely important communication, especially during and after emergencies. Most recently, Steel City operators played a role in broadcasting messages that helped weather officials during a major storm a few weeks ago that included at least one tornado that struck Allegheny County.
John Jennings, 66, of Green Tree, became embroiled in that weather emergency when he heard cell phone amateurs reporting flooding near Banksville Road and near the Galleria mall in Mt. Lebanon.
“I called the National Weather Service in Moon Township and reported this information,” Jennings said.
“They track storm damage to measure the intensity of the storms.”
Club member Joe Fenn proudly remembers his greatest contribution to public safety in 1977 when Johnstown suffered a severe flood.
“The local Red Cross woke me from a deep sleep to connect with someone in Johnstown they couldn’t reach,” he said. “Communication was broken and we had no idea how bad things were.
“I sent a message over the radio and amateurs came out of the wood and helped get food and supplies to the right places. I’ve even shared medical information between patients and doctors. It was very worth it. “
For his role in this emergency, Fenn received certification from the Red Cross and Conemaugh Valley Amateur Radio Operators.
Karl Pastorak, 69, started the hobby at the age of 13. He lived near the W3KWH clubhouse of the Steel City Amateur Radio Club in Collier.
“I saw the antennas, but I didn’t know what was going on in the building,” said Pastorak. “I became curious and knocked on the door. They let me in and I never left. “
Club members celebrated the group’s 80th anniversary by sending radio messages to other radio amateurs of their milestone and inviting them to visit the club’s website to learn more about its history.
“It takes one person to start a chain of events to make a difference in our communities,” Mente said. “My motivation for getting my amateur radio license is to make a difference in my community and to make friends all over the world.”
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