SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Being an amateur radio operator is both a hobby and a service to the community.

In the amateur radio emergency service group, they serve people who are in the middle of a crisis or emergency situation.

They serve people who are unable to  utilize “regular” communication devices like your phones.

Participants said when you call someone on a cellphone, it doesn’t let anybody else know what may be going on.

“Ham radio allows others to hear your communications. So in the events of weather emergencies or something like that, everyone can know and have awareness of what is going on around them,” said Brent Slane, a class participant.

“And so we come in, provide emergency communications, we can coordinate communication work that we do with certain volunteers,” said Bill Robison, the assistant coordinator at amateur ardio emergency services.

Robison said they can also communicate with emergency response teams who are already out there doing search and rescue.

“So that if they need something in the field, we at headquarters location can get that material out to them as quickly as possible,” he said.

Around 35 people attended the amateur radio service training Saturday, that’s usually offered once or twice a year.

Today was the technician class. And if you pass the technician class, you get to go to the general class. And if you pass that class, you get to go to the extra class. And if you pass the extra class, you get to use the entire fcc spectrum designated for the amateur class.

“So this class like the one we’re doing today is at that first entry level process,” said Robison.

There’s no age limit to becoming an amateur radio operator. 

“I’ve heard of folks who have licenses as young as 7, 6 years old,” said Robison.

They say they had a lot of fun, and also learned a lot.

“This is great. You know, this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and it’s wonderful to have the resources,” said Slane.

Robison said most members in the amateur radio emergency service carry equipment with them, so they can respond to any situation by simply setting up the radio. 

If you want to become an amateur radio emergency service member, visit http://smarc.org/.