Retired people on ham radios?!

By Denis Taft, Wesley Homes Lea Hill resident After 17 residents of Wesley Homes Lea Hill completed a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class in 2012, ham radios were mentioned for communication. During emergencies, normal modes of communication might not be working, but there were no licensed ham radio operators living on campus. Wesley Homes residents Millard Battles (ham radio call sign KF7WDL) and Denis Taft (W7DJT) contacted John Dawson, one of the original owners/trustees of the Auburn area repeater group, which owns, sets up and maintains something similar to a cell phone tower to transfer signals. John mentioned that we could get a technician ham radio license by attending a course taught by Scott Currie (NS7C), a certified volunteer examiner. After passing the licensing exam, Millard and Denis joined the Maple Valley Amateur Radio Club and the Auburn Emergency Management Communications (EMCOMM). As members of EMCOMM, they have the ability to contact the Auburn Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the event of an emergency. It will also help them to gain experience using the ham radios at parade and civic events. In the winter of 2012, Millard and Denis convinced Scott to teach a ham radio course on the Lea Hill campus, and Wesley Homes picked up more licensees: Martha Battles (KG7ACC) and Vic Page (KG7ACK). It was only a matter of time before the Wesley Homes emergency net was established with the sole purpose of providing a point of contact for timely information with all of the emergency communications team members within Wesley Homes Lea Hill. This net operates every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. Before long, we added Lewis Hatfield (N7YWH), who has had his license since 1999. Our current member count is at five. Vic Page, Lew Hatfield, Martha & Millard Battles and Denis Taft All net members are active in the Wesley Homes Emergency Preparedness Committee. In addition to ham radios, we also use Motorola™ Walkie Talkies, along with 36 other walkie talkie users.  The walkie talkie users operate on a short range net every Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. The experience level of these members continues to grow with each passing week. The average age of both the ham radio operators and walkie talkie users is close to the mid 80s. There are licensed ham radio operators at Wesley Homes Des Moines, too, and we are in the process of establishing an easy method of communicating with them on the Sunday night net. There are currently 26 CERT graduates at Wesley Homes Lea Hill.  

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