GREENSBORO-In times of severe weather, ham radio operators are ready. When cell phones, internet and landlines go down, they are the main form of communication. They continue to serve as a crucial resource for first responders now more than ever.
Guilford County amateur radio emergency coordinator Jim Waynick and hundreds of his colleagues across the state are on standby should severe weather hit.
"We are a part of the auxiliary communications interoperability through the Department of Homeland Security,” Waynick said.
Waynick and his team have hundreds of hours of specialized Homeland Security training.
"Amateur radio is a part of our plan, just like the other 120 agencies we deal with on a regular basis,” said Don Campbell, Guilford County's Emergency Management Director. “They train and exercise with us."
The team is able to take the radios everywhere: from ambulances to emergency operations centers and establish a line of communication when phone and internet systems go down.
"We get into position, we get set up and then we pass the exact messages they need relayed,” Waynick said.
With more advanced technology out there these days, some folks might think that ham radios aren't as relevant today as they were in the past. But emergency management officials say they're more important than ever.
"If you think about the Atlanta ice storm awhile back, nobody could talk on their phones. Some could get texts, but not everybody. Amateur radio could communicate through the entire event,” Campbell said.
Waynick says statewide there are about 300 amateur radio operators who have the specialized training he has.