Amateur Radio Operators “Stand Down” from Chinese Earthquake Relief
The earthquake that struck China’s Qinghai province on April 14 killed more than 2000 people and left thousands of people injured and homeless. According to Fan Bin, BA1RB, of the Chinese Radio Sports Association (CRSA), relief efforts are continuing for those left homeless. Amateur radio operators from Beijing, Sichuan, Shandong, Anhui, Qinghai and Jiangsu were widely involved in the disaster relief actions, travelling to the disaster center. Working through the poor weather conditions, they helped with transportation of medicines, tents, food and clothes to the disaster area. The Amateur Radio operators were even directly involved in disaster rescue activities -- one Beijing Amateur Radio rescue team saved 6 people.
Fan said that the high altitude caused 90 percent of the Amateur Radio team members to have Plateau Reaction (altitude sickness), but no one was injured during their efforts to help others affected by the disaster.
The CRSA reports that the experience and lessons learnt from the Great Sichuan earthquake in 2008 resulted in Amateur Radio disaster relief evolving into a practical level. The radio hams were connected to government disaster relief organizations, synchronizing the operation and enhancing the government disaster relief. This time, hams joined Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), such as Red Cross Society of China, China Charity Federation, volunteer rescue teams and The One Foundation to get financial and facilities support to perform the task.
All Amateur Radio teams brought relief supplies, such as clothes, tents, medicine, food and lighting to the disaster area, and one team brought AM/FM radio to the area to help get information from outside the area. Fan noted the rich experiences gained by 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and said that the Sichuan Amateur Radio rescue team arrived in Yushu quickly, and setting up a 70 cm repeater to help communication and coordinate all Amateur Radio operators coming into the area; amateurs also used HF during disaster relief efforts, mainly on 40 meters. “They gained good experience in the rescue, he said. “Due to high altitude, one generator did not work, and one of the Beijing team had to reduce their communication power.” The Sichuan team had an operator who can speak local language, greatly helping with disaster relief.
“Now, all of the Amateur Radio heroes have returned to their daily life,” Fan said. “We will never forget their contributions in the disaster relief.” -- Information provided by CRSA member Fan Bin, BA1RB, and Coordinator and Chairman of the IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee Jim Linton VK3PC