Amateur radio club collaborates to help during emergencies

Apr. 17—Each month a group of dedicated Ham radio operators with the Clark Fork Valley Amateur Radio Club meet at Church on the Move in Plains.

Ham radios, owned by thousands around the world, communicate on radio frequencies assigned by the FCC dedicated for the use by amateur radio enthusiasts. Radios range from small handheld units costing under 30 to elaborate base stations costing thousands of dollars, allowing the owners to communicate from mountain tops, in a car or in a home, all without relying on the internet or cellphone networks.

Ham operators have been a vital part of emergency response teams during natural and man-made disasters over the years. The Amateur Radio Service was instrumental in helping New York City during the 9/11 attacks. Ham radio also came to the rescue during Hurricane Katrina when all other communications failed.

Clark Fork Valley Amateur Radio Club has been collaborating closely with local sheriff's offices to continue helping county organizations with communications during emergencies. The radio club is also working with Clark Fork Valley Hospital with their communication equipment.

Ham radio operation requires an FCC license and a knowledge exam. Classes for the license require a knowledge of basic radio operation and a small fee. Clark Fork Valley Amateur Radio Club will be conducting classes in preparation for the exam, April 27 via Zoom. For those interested in becoming a member and or attend the class, contact club President Lyle Holyoak at

All ages are encouraged to become members and they meet at the Church on the Move in Plains, the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.