When you think Christmas and HAM, you think food, right? Well, not this year. HAM, this holiday season, refers to Cordova’s new HAM radio operators.
The Anchorage Amateur Radio Club KL7AA sponsored the class by donating the books, the materials, and instructors. The Cordova School District supported the effort by donating the classroom space. The Cordova Volunteer Fire Department paid for the extra costs of the class. King’s Chamber donated the housing for the weekend. And most importantly, all 19 people who took the two day class and the subsequent FCC (Federal Communication Commission) exam… passed!
Why is that such a big deal? Amateur radio, which is often referred to HAM radio, is considered a hobby by many, but can oftentimes be the backbone of emergency responses when all other communication methods have failed to work. Don’t let the word “amateur” fool you. The group in Alaska that helps with emergency responses is ARES, Amateur Radio Emergency Service, and they are anything but amateurs. They are the ones who can call Anchorage for help, if all else fails in Cordova.
Another big deal about this particular class was the fact that the exam was given in a bush community. You must have three “volunteer examiners”, by FCC rules, to administer this exam. The FCC gave permission to use Cordova as a pilot project to see if it would work to do it over the Internet. Thanks to the combined computer skills of instructor Heather Hasper and Keith Zamudio (from the Cordova School District), the entire exam was monitored with computer cameras, and “volunteer examiners” in Anchorage watched the exam in progress. That paves the way for future bush communities to have a class like this in their areas.
Prior to this weekend, Cordova had only one HAM operator. Ralph Bullis is Cordova’s ARES representative and, as such, keeps his skills perfected by participating regularly in amateur radio communications. The new HAM radio operators in town are Faith Barnes, Bob and Joanie Behrends, Bill and Pam Crawford, Toni Bocci, Rueben Brown, Mike Butler, Austin Carter, Jesse Carter, Oscar Delpino, Sue Farzan, Jason Fischer, Dick Groff, Mike Hicks, Melanie O’Brien, Brad Sapp, Jon Syder, and Keith Zamudio. The hope is that some members of this group will create a response team for Cordova.
As soon as this group of new amateur radio operators buys their gear, Cordova will be more prudent. More prepared. More ready.