'Ham radio' operators to station, aid emergency response during Total Solar Eclipse

Updated: Aug. 16, 2017 at 6:56 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There will be added voices over the air waves, aiding emergency response over the Total Solar Eclipse weekend and also on Monday, August 21, for the actual event itself.

Amateur 'ham radio' operators will station in places along the Total Solar Eclipse path of totality across the state from Greenville to Columbia and Charleston. These are volunteers who will communicate with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) at headquarters, should cell reception go down from the influx of crowds potentially jamming cell signal.

The 'boots of the ground' will be relaying any emergencies or issues to radio communicators at SCEMD headquarters, who would then send that traffic out to others. Ham bands will be at individual county emergency operations centers, and at hospitals, among other places. They will be on standby to station at emergency shelters for the American Red Cross, should events happen that call for shelters to open.

"This way we've got open communication with the different radios through amateur radio. If all the other communication has problems in any kind of disaster, we're here ready and waiting," radio operator Ken Mooneyham says.

"So, I think we'll be fine but that's where this comes in. If somebody can't pick up their cell phone they'll still be able to get us information and get information from here, so that's what we're focusing on. What you receive on the end of that, is a quicker response and warning time to the general public," SCEMD Communications Manager Gabriel Turner says.

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