Five Crucians graduated Wednesday as the territory’s newest amateur radio operators after completing an eight-week training course sponsored by the V.I. Amateur Radio Club and the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency.
The five newly licensed operators join the cadre of radio amateurs available to enhance communications during a disaster, according to a VITEMA press release announcing Wednesday’s graduation.
“For the past two years, VITEMA and VI amateur radio clubs have been cultivating a mutually-beneficial partnership to support the territory’s emergency communications systems,” said Elton Lewis, VITEMA director. “With their new licenses, the students will provide a vital link in connecting their professional organizations with VITEMA during times of disaster.”
Volunteers from the St. Croix Amateur Radio Club trained residents for the beginning amateur radio license. The core instructional elements consisted of simple radio principles, safety, operating procedures, and regulations. Morse code is no longer a license requirement.
Volunteer examiners administrated the Federal Communications Commission technician-class license test and five students were successful in passing. The students are: Sonia Maynard John, from the Bureau of Internal Revenue; Orville James of VI Water and Power Authority; Sanchia Percival-Hall of the VI National Guard; Jeremy Swan from St. Croix Rescue; and Aretha Marshall, Department of Planning & Natural Resources – Division of Libraries.
The VITEMA release said amateur radio continues to play an essential role in helping save lives and property in a disaster. Amateur radio operators, frequently referred to as “ham radio” operators, have provided backup emergency communications in many disasters — including Hurricane Hugo, which devastated St. Croix in 1989. During major disasters amateur radio is one of the few – and sometimes the only – form of communication with the outside world.
“The survivability of amateur radio, amateurs’ operating skills, and amateurs’ technical skills, effectively complement VITEMA’s communications systems,” said Fred Kleber, president of the Amateur Radio Club of St. Croix. “Territory radio amateurs work closely with VITEMA personnel, and are required to complete many of the same disaster readiness training classes as emergency managers.”
The St. Croix Amateur Radio Club will conducting another beginning license class in early 2013. Further information about the class can be obtained by calling Kleber at 1-317-590-0001 or sending email to K9VV@ARRL.net.