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Amateur Radio Operators ‘Unsung Heroes’ Of 911

July 6th, 2018

With little fanfare, licensed amateur radio operators have been filling the gaps in emergency communications across Potter County for decades. This week, Commissioners Doug Morley, Susan Kefover and Paul Heimel brought the Headwaters Amateur Radio Club out of the shadows for some long-overdue accolades. At the same time, dedicated licensed operators Tom and Diane Guilfoy turned the tables by commending the commissioners for allowing the club to mount its aerials on county-owned towers and by providing a small operations center in the county’s Gunzburger Building.

Tom Guilfoy said the “ham radio” operators not only can bridge the gaps of communications in sections of terrain inaccessible by traditional 911 service, they can also use their battery-operated units to relay urgent communications in the event of power outages or other emergencies. “If you would like two good examples of how ham radio operators were pressed into service, you need look no further than the attacks on the World Trade Center and the devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico,” he pointed out. “The only way to relay communications in and out of the disaster scenes was by amateur radio operators.”

In Potter County, the Headwaters organization plays an important role in the local emergency planning process, said Commissioner Morley, who also serves as director of emergency services. He pointed out that the Headwaters club is assisting in the planning process for the county’s reconstruction and modernization of the 911 emergency communications system by advising on areas of service gaps and other details. More information about the club is available here

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