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HAM RADIO JUNKIES KEEP SHARP FOR EMERGENCY.



Byline: SUE DOYLE Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA Santa Clarita, city (1990 pop. 110,642), Los Angeles co., S Calif., suburb 30 mi (48 km) NW of downtown Los Angeles, on the Santa Clara River; inc. 1987. Situated in the Santa Clara valley and nearby canyons, Santa Clarita includes the former towns of Canyon Country,  -- Ham radios began as a hobby for Norm Dlugatch 46 years ago.

He was 14 when he first put the headphones Head-mounted speakers. Headphones have a strap that rests on top of the head, positioning a pair of speakers over both ears. For listening to music or monitoring live performances and audio tracks, both left and right channels are required.  on and dialed in to other radio operators around the world, an interest that stayed with him intermittently through the years.

But that all changed in 1994 when the Northridge Earthquake The Northridge earthquake occurred on January 17, 1994 at 4:31 AM Pacific Standard Time in the city of Los Angeles, California. The earthquake had a "strong" moment magnitude of 6. , like a grand mal grand mal (grahn mal) [Fr.] see under epilepsy.

grand mal
n.
A severe epilepsy characterized by seizures involving tonic-clonic spasms and by the loss of consciousness.
 tectonic tectonic /tec·ton·ic/ (tek-ton´ik) pertaining to construction.  seizure, rattled the Southland and destroyed lives, freeway structures and homes.

With power out, phone lines down and city hall in shambles, it was local ham radio operators who connected Santa Clarita with the outside world again.

That experience thrust the now 60-year-old Dlugatch back into the world of amateur radios with a vengeance. ``It was pretty scary not having any communications, water or anything,'' he said, recalling the magnitude 6.7 earthquake.

With a ham radio set before him on Saturday, Dlugatch sat at a long folding table with friend Mike Davis and logged in the locations of other operators they were reaching.

The pair, and others in the Santa Clarita Amateur Radio Club, were participating in a nationwide 24-hour emergency communications test and contest, sponsored by Amateur Radio Relay League A relay league is a chain of message forwarding stations in a system of optical telegraphs, radio telegraph stations, or riding couriers.

An interesting description of these early 19th century methods and its evolution into the electrical telegraph networks of the mid and
, a Connecticut-based nonprofit membership association for ham radio operators.

Starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, the club members connected to places like Arizona, Utah and Alaska, where they said their hellos, chatted briefly about the weather and then quickly turned the dial to find someone new.

For the contest, members were competing with other clubs to contact the most operators across the mountains and prairies in 24 hours. Although there are no shiny Cadillacs or cold, hard cash offerings for winners, the incentive is the top-dog recognition among other amateur radio operators An amateur radio operator is an individual who, typically, uses equipment at an amateur radio station to engage in two-way personal communications with other similar individuals on radio frequencies assigned to the Amateur Radio Service. .

Members went to work underneath red tents set up on top of Castaic Lake Castaic Lake is a lake on Castaic Creek formed by Castaic Dam, in northwestern Los Angeles County, California, near the town of Castaic. The 323,700 acre foot lake (399,000,000 m³) is the terminus of the West Branch of the California Aqueduct, though some comes from the 154 mi²  Water Agency. While the activity was all in good fun, it was also an exercise in setting up camp when disaster strikes.

For many involved in the club, the Northridge Earthquake was a turning point in their lives.

When it hit, 63-year-old Ron Rollins recalled the team of amateur operators tapping into the world from outside City Hall. He was there passing out water to devastated dev·as·tate  
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.

2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark.
 residents and quickly joined the club.

Jim Osment was one of the radio operators outside City Hall that day 12 years ago. The club had created an emergency radio station that ran off generators and batteries in the parking lot of the condemned government building. With cell phones and traditional lines down, the amateur radios were the only communication available.

``When a community is on its knees, there could be no way it could operate without an amateur operator,'' the 69-year-old said.

Emergency preparedness stays on the minds of all members. Davis, 56, for example, has a 7,000-watt generator at home and extra battery power in case crisis strikes.

Steve Das keeps his RV stocked at all times with 75 gallons of water, propane propane, CH3CH2CH3, colorless, gaseous alkane. It is readily liquefied by compression and cooling. It melts at −189.9°C; and boils at −42.2°C;.  and diesel fuel, so he can jump right in when an emergency hits.

A ham radio antenna sticks to the side of the vehicle, and he reaches out to others through his radio while on the road.

``People don't realize until disaster strikes just how important these things "These Things" is an EP by She Wants Revenge, released in 2005 by Perfect Kiss, a subsidiary of Geffen Records. Music Video
The music video stars Shirley Manson, lead singer of the band Garbage. Track Listing
1. "These Things [Radio Edit]" - 3:17
2.
 are,'' he said.

sue.doyle(at)dailynews.com

(661) 257-5254

CAPTION(S):

4 photos

Photo:

(1 -- 2) Using a ham radio, Ron Rollins, above, listens for a response Saturday when the Santa Clarita Amateur Radio Club plugged into a 24-hour nationwide emergency communications contest. At right, Lauren Grokett, 18, uses a telegraph to make contact in Saugus on Saturday morning.

(3 -- 4) At top, Norm Dlugatch of Canyon Country and Mike Davis of Studio City listen for a transmission over their amateur radio with the Santa Clarita Amateur Radio Club. Right, Ron Collins of Saugus adjusts the tuning on his radio.

Alex Collins/Special to the Daily News
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 25, 2006
Words:649
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