Ham radio operators train with CareFlight crew
Ham (amateur) radio operators training in cooperation with Douglas County Communications practiced emergency radio contact with the Care Flight helicopter recently.
In a prearranged drill through REMSA, ham radio operator Dick Flanagan established contact with the pilot on the ham radio “universal calling frequency,” then gave him information helpful in landing the helicopter. Flanagan gave the pilot wind direction, speed, latitude and longitude with his GPS (a hand held device which uses the Global Positioning System). Had the landing zone been unfamiliar, the ground contact would also give the location of power poles and noted other hazards.
Though oeprators met the helicopter and flight crew at their normal daylight base, they practiced the contact and exchange of information as though it were a wilderness incident landing.
Earlier in the month during the Monday evening training, ham radio operator and volunteer fire fighter/EMT LeRoy Clement discussed ground rules and safety protocols for landing the Care Flight helicopter.
Clement covered the need to establish initial contact with REMSA dispatch through our county dispatch or direct phone call to give the frequency to be used as ground contact. The pilot must have this information in order to program his radio to establish ground contact, he explained. After discussing latitude and longitude, the class stepped outside to practice using the GPS units in order to be able to give a correct position.
Normally ground contact is with fire service or law enforcement personnel. However, ham radio operators have actually helped establish linking ham radio communications for a wilderness rescue near this area. Ham radio operators in the training group know they have the capability and the knowledge to land the Care Flight helicopter in an emergency situation where there may not be other emergency services on scene yet.