Amateur radio operators prepare for Gustav

By Cody Holyoke - bio | email

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- In a time of crisis, it's a tool that can save your life.

Ham radios, can come in handy during times of emergency--a lesson learned by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"If you tuned in on the amateur radio bans, you would have heard FEMA.  You would hear the Army, all running search and rescue operations," explained Mark Wintersole, president of the Montgomery Amateur Radio Club.

It's a club that's by no means exclusive.  More than 700,000 operators live across the country.  Even more span the globe.

We try to be prepared--all the time--for when we have to get set up and operate," said Phil Salley, an amateur radio operator.

When disaster strikes, "hams," as they're called, turn serious fast, helping organizations like the Red Cross get the information they need.

"At home, we'll take turns--shifts--to communicate in and out of the affected area," Salley said.

"We're ready--at least to provide the first few days of communications," Wintersole explained.