In a fractured nation with a toxic public square, ham radio — even in this always-online digital age — is a thriving part of civil society.
Shannon Vore and her friend C.J. Bouchard were out four-wheeling in their Jeep last fall when a passing trucker warned them of what looked like an ATV accident nearby. They said they’d investigate. Deep in the Rocky Mountains of northwest Idaho, there were no towns nearby and no cell phone service.
But both Vore and Bouchard were newly licensed amateur radio operators, also known as “hams.” In amateur radio lingo, the operators are “hams,” and they transmit on “ham radio,” a spectrum of noncommercial radio frequencies. Vore and Bouchard found the accident site and two critically injured teenage girls. After establishing contact with another ham on the national calling frequency, 146.420 MHz, Bouchard handed off the microphone to Vore and began some basic medical treatment. He stopped one of the girls’ bleeding with a tourniquet.
For the next few hours, Vore worked through a ham operator 20 miles away in Coeur d’Alene who was on the phone with 911. She relayed information and instructions to Bouchard and an off-duty EMT who also came upon the scene. Adding urgency to an already dire situation, a storm was blowing in, and a Life Flight Network helicopter was grounded before it could make an air rescue.
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