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Amateur radio operators simulate emergency test

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EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - Earlier this week, 911 briefly went down in parts of Western Wisconsin, which poses the question, "Who takes over when typical operators aren't available?"

Turns out, when there's no power, but you still need to communicate in an emergency, amateur radio steps in.

On Saturday, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service conducted a "Going Dark Simulated Emergency Test."

Set up on the top floors of Sacred Heart Hospital and Marshfield Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, the operators went through several exercises such as flooding evacuations, illness from polluted water and requesting fuel for hospital generators.

You may notice that in the video, several operators are not wearing masks. They said this is to ensure clear communication during emergency communications.

Amateur Radio Emergency Service Communications Coordinator, William Kraft, said when major disasters happen, they still have the ability to transmit necessary information.

"We operate off the grid," Kraft said. "As amateur radio operators, because we have many frequencies we rely on, we can provide that vital communication as things shut down."

Kraft added becoming a licensed amateur radio operator does take skill: from training on how to conduct emergency communications to understanding how antennas send information.

Katrina Lim

Katrina Lim joined the News 18 team in August 2019 as a multimedia journalist. She was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey but has lived in all time zones of the contiguous U.S.A.

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