On the 13th of September the fishing trawler “Kavidu Putha” came on the Radio Society’s morning “High Frequency Net” of 7060 kHz to inform about the desperate situation of the trawler in question which was adrift 3.54N/ 84E off the Southern coast of Sri Lanka with an estimated one hundred Sri Lankans. On frequency were radio amateurs Calvin Fernando 4S7CF, Nelson Ranasinghe 4S7NE, Sarath Mapa 4S7MM and Noel Lokuge 4S7AVR. Calvin Fernando a maritime radio officer with years of experience in rescue operations, immediately got the location and other details necessary and informed the SL Army operations division who informed the SLN which immediately set the rescue operations in motion and the trawler which had left Sri Lanka two months ago on an illegal journey to Australia was towed into Galle harbour. When the trawler developed engine trouble the human trafficker crew had abandoned it and it was adrift without food and water and the 52 passengers were in a pitiful state of dehydration.
Radio Amateurs are duly licensed radio experimenters who are dedicated to radio communications. They are technical minded people often professionals in communications as well. Calvin a much weathered seafarer of the seven seas, knew how to get about the situation, getting the location and as many details as possible. Congrats Calvin. Noel, Nelson and Sarath for being on hand in this situation and it once again demonstrates the need to be on the air and always on the lookout. Thanks gentlemen for showing what amateur radio can do and doing our service proud.
From the Desk of the President – RSSL President’s message
The Role of the Ham radio operator in times of Disaster
Disasters could happen, and will happen at times and places which cannot be predicted with pinpoint accuracy. Many have written on this topic and many have accepted that amateur radio does play an important part as a second line of communication in times of disaster.
When disaster strikes all terrestrial communications go down and cellular networks are either destroyed or overloaded, thus putting a great part of communication out of commission.
Developed countries like USA and Japan have faced major calamities and have used their second line of communication “Ham Operators” effectively and efficiently to disseminate information and also to set up a mechanism to coordinate with government and nongovernmental t organizations. This is in addition to their effective communication channels of their armed forces.
However having said that, there are a few nay sayers who are like the ostriches with their heads buried in the sands of their high offices, who fail to see that no matter how high tech one can get in setting up a disaster coordination centre there will be that one link which could be the decisive factor in life and death.
Apart from the disaster communication we could help in alleviating the anxiety of those who are away from their homes or working in a remote area by relaying messages to their loved ones, as everyone is concerned of the well being of their kith and kin, since the official communication channels will be busy with the law and order situation.
We as Hams should be prepared at all times with a core team having the necessary equipment ready to be on air at any given time and location. We also need to have a simple plan of operation to effectively control the channels of communication with proper documentation. If this is not in place we may have to ask the Disaster to standby until we get our house in order!
Our first drill on Disaster Coordination communication was held on the 2nd of September 2012, and we hope to continue this on the 1st Sunday of every month.
Looking forward in hearing from you.
Harenn Durghabakshi – 4S7RD