Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Ham Radio" operators gather for annual Field Day

On the evening of March 2, 2012 tornadoes had wiped out communication in Henryville, IN. Phone lines and electricity were down along with communication systems used by emergency responders. The Clark County Emergency Coordinator for Amateur Radio took his personal RV, which is fully equipped to set up emergency communication, to the fire station in Henryville where response agencies had gathered. During the first 18-24 hours, members from Amateur Radio clubs across Kentucky and Southern Indiana established communication to provide their services, free of charge, to local emergency management and authorities.
Amateur Radio operator Roman Rusinek.

Roman Rusinek was one of the local amateur radio operators that responded to the disaster. Roman obtained his amateur radio license in 1995 and joined the Oldham County Kentucky Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) when the volunteer group formed last year. The thing that most drew him to the hobby was the community service aspect—helping others during emergencies.

“It takes a lot of preparation and practice to prepare for an emergency,” Roman said adding that he was impressed with the coordination of emergency communication efforts following the March 2 tornadoes.

To prepare for the real deal, amateur radio operators participate in drills offered by the city, county, state and nation that involve emergency management and local authorities. The drills offer an opportunity to build relationships and plan for when disaster does strike.

Operators also provide their services at local bike rides, run/walks and other events where emergency communication might be needed. It gives them an opportunity to test out their equipment and learn where their receivers have the best reception, so that during an actual emergency, they know where they can and cannot set up shop.

Amateur Radio played a larger role in disaster response before cell phones became a staple in every back pocket and handbag, but even cell towers can be affected by disaster. Cell phone lines are quickly tied up when people are trying to contact friends and family to ensure their safety. Without the use of electricity, Amateur Radio operators provide a separate channel for communication avoiding the possibility of being denied due to swamped lines. It’s like their motto says “When all else fails . . . Amateur Radio.”

Roman and other members of the Oldham County ARES will be staging demonstrations from 1-9 p.m. this Saturday, June 23 at the Oldham County Red Cross, 1215 N Highway 393 in Buckner, KY. The demos are part of ARRL Field Day sponsored by the National Association for Amateur Radio. More than 35,000 operators will gather at various locations across the country to show how radio can act very much like the internet when needed. Visitors can view the equipment used and even go “on-air.”

Roman hopes that Field Day will help inform the community of the full capabilities of Amateur Radio and spark interest in others, especially kids. To learn more about Amateur Radio, please visit

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What’s a little bee sting?

It’s been over a year now since my fiancĂ© and I took in our part Siamese, slightly cross-eyed, bundle of fur Gaffney. It has also been nearly a year since I took the Red Cross Pet First Aid course where I learned skills which I have, fortunately, not had to use. *knocks on wood* Well, there was one day, probably less than a month after I took Pet First Aid, when Gaffney starting “choking.” Being the PFA expert, I quickly picked her up, turned her upside down and began massaging the back of her neck to remove whatever had lodged there. It turned out to be nothing, but I still felt pretty impressed with myself.

Fast forward 12 months and 365 escape attempts, and Gaffney has somehow managed to only use up one or two of her nine lives. She almost used up one more this week when she had an encounter with a little bee. During her hyper moods, Gaffney loves to attack anything that moves—flies, beetles, printers, feet, birds outside the window. Blinds in nearly every room have suffered due to her fixation. On Tuesday, she got a real treat when a couple of bees found their way into our kitchen. For some reason, maybe it’s because I am not allergic to bees, it did not occur to me that Gaffney swatting at the striped invaders might be a bad idea.

 When not ruining window treatments or attacking feet, Gaffney enjoys sleeping.

It was only after she had bested one of the two that I re-entered the kitchen to find 10 more had joined the first pair. Through the floor vent they flew to avenge their fallen comrade. We quickly removed Gaffney from the room, and after sting proofing myself (putting on a hoodie and my winter gloves) I took care of the rest of the crew. Although we cannot be sure, Gaffney either has no allergic reaction to bee stings or she miraculously did not get stung.

For those of you wondering, as I did Tuesday evening, pets can have allergic reactions to bee stings. They are usually stung in their nose or feet—the less hairy areas of their bodies. Signs that your pet has been stung and is having an allergic reaction are:
  • collapse
  • difficulty breathing
  • pain, itching or licking at the site
  • redness, discoloration or hives around the site and other body parts
  • red bumps on the abdomen, vomiting or diarrhea and swelling at the sting site
Hopefully, you will be lucky like we were, but if not, check that your pet is breathing, check for signs of shock and if the stinger is still there, scrape it off with a firm object like a credit card. DO NOT “PICK” IT OUT! That could release more toxins. Apply a cool compress to help with swelling and get your pet to the Vet ASAP.

You could also take a Red Cross Pet First Aid course to learn how to respond to possible emergencies. They even give you a handy dandy reference guide which you can always refer back to. The next course at the Louisville Area Chapter is Saturday, July 28 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Course cost is $70 per person. To register or for more information, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit