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Wood County officials plan to be ready.
“Listen, Act and Live” is the theme for the 2012 Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness week, which runs through Friday. At 1 p.m. today, Tornado Awareness Day, a mock tornado watch (a watch means conditions are right for a tornado to form) will be followed by a mock tornado warning (a warning means a tornado has been reported or Doppler radar indicates one is possible) starting at 1:45 p.m. in Wood County.
Being prepared ensures everything — and every person — will be ready to take action, emergency officials say.
“We have already practiced our severe weather plan,” said Melody Dearth, Riverview Hospital Association disaster committee chairwoman.
Part of that plan will include utilizing the volunteer services of ham radio operators within Riverview Medical Center, Dearth said.
In the 20 years Dearth has been with the hospital, there haven’t been any local situations that necessitated the services of ham radio operators, Dearth said. Examples of instances when the ham operators might be needed include tornadoes and ice storms, which could cause cell towers to go down and the loss of power. Ham radio operators can relay messages between hospitals, doctors and emergency personnel.
They recently helped when Merrill had severe storms.
“We know if we need (the operators), we can call them,” Dearth said. “They know where to go; they have all the appropriate (connections), so they can plug in and can give us the information we need and communicate with others.
“If the cell towers are down and your land lines are down and you need communications, they are the individuals who will be able to bridge communications to other hospitals and counties. So, it’s a great benefit to have them in our building.”
About 40 of the approximate 150 amateur ham radio operators in the area are trained for emergency response, said Jim Batka, who has been a ham operator for about 50 years. Batka’s wife, Kristine, is the Skywarn coordinator for Wood County, and also a radio operator.
Article source: http://wrtnews.co/JiMY8X