With any natural disaster, communication can often become a matter of life and death, and if phone lines are broken and cell towers crumble, relaying messages to the outside world and coordinating rescue efforts becomes that much more difficult. Add to that the fact that Nepal’s government is woefully unprepared to handle such a humanitarian crisis, and chaos reigns.
Still, some volunteers are trying to impose order on the chaos. After the quake, which shook cities in India as well as Nepal, volunteer ham radio operators from India traveled to the region to relay messages from areas whose communications infrastructure is broken or overloaded. Ham radio, also called amateur radio, is a means of sending and receiving messages over a specific radio frequency, and it is often used in disaster situations because it operates well off the grid; transceivers can be powered by generators and set up just about anywhere.
I’m looking forward to getting my Ham license this summer. I have a nifty little handheld radio and I’m ready to chat, just have to learn my frequenencies, hertzes, and bandwidtherwizers.