In the aftermath of Haiti's 7.0 magnitude earthquake, amateur radio operators like Jeff Walter tuned in and listened.
"We are listening for anything, any information that we can possibly relay or use in some manner to benefit somebody," said Walter, emergency coordinator for Harris County Amateur Radio.
The wireless technology came in handy when Harris County was asked to in aid in the search for six Houston area Rotary Club members in Haiti. The group's flight had landed in Port-au-Prince an hour prior to the powerful quake.
"We were asked to see if we could help find an individual, and we began communication processes immediately and tried to find out if that particular individual was in the location we hoped to find. We were fortunate enough, in three hours, to be able to find that individual," said Mark Sloan with the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Harris County Amateur Radio Emergency Services, or ARES is a voluntary division of Harris County's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. For the past three days, volunteers have sat and listened to information coming out of the devastated island nation.
So far, communication in Haiti has been sporadic.
"There are three, what's called HH calls that are known in Port-au-Prince, and we have only heard - that I know of - from HH6JH, and that is a priest that is in that area," said Walter.
Father John Henault, or HH6JH and a United Nations Food Program worker were able to provide information via amateur radio despite the communication blackout in Haiti.
The technology is almost a century old, but it is especially useful in emergency situations when all other modern day communication fails.
"The ham radio operators during Hurricane Ike provided us situational awareness," said Sloan. "We were communicating with neighborhoods, so that we would know what was actually going on in various parts of the region."
While the eyes of world are fixed on the images broadcast out of Haiti, the ears of ham operators are fixed on their radios.
Amateur Radio Operators Provide Critical Communication Line During Disasters
Volunteers Monitor Ham Radio Out Of Haiti
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