A new Amateur Radio Club has been established at the South Shore Hospital in Weymouth. A driving force behind the club’s formation was employee John O’Neill, KB1QEM. O’Neill helped the hospital specify what equipment to purchase and include in a hospital “Go Kit”, funded from a homeland security grant. The grant was secured thanks to the efforts of Joan Cooper-Zack, R.N., KB1UBZ, who serves as the hospital’s Emergency Preparedness Manager. ARES District Emergency Coordinator Carl Aveni, N1FY also assisted in educating the group about the various services available through Amateur Radio and ARES.
Employees, volunteers, and friends of the hospital met for the first meeting of the South Shore Hospital Amateur Radio Club (W1SSH) on December 11, 2010. Eighteen people were present. Photo ID badges were issued, and a presentation was given by Jim Tovet, W1JT on packet radio. Tovet demonstrated how amateurs at the hospital could send and receive text messages with other packet terminals and PBBSes outside of the area. Tovel also demonstrated Winlink. A test message goint to one of the hospital officials was received in the form of an email that originated as an amateur radio packet message.
A January meeting is planned that will feature a talk about the National Traffic System and NTS radiograms as a part of an ongoing training program. Already, an area-wide simplex test was conducted to test radio coverage. Interestingly, the test revealed de-sensitization problems caused by the hospital’s paging transmitter.
The formation of the club, and implementation of the training program at South Shore Hospital has been such a success that KB1UBZ and KB1QEM have been approached by other local health care institutions who are also interested in developing similar programs.
KB1QEM says there are several parts of the country where hams have joined their resources together to form radio networks for area hospitals. “It would be a tremendous asset for area institutions to be able to communicate with each other on a predefined network of simplex frequencies and repeaters. I have my sites set for the creation of a system along those lines as we and other hospitals in the area get our groups established.”
Also attributing to the success of the club’s formation was an Amateur Radio Technician Class sponsored by both the South Shore Hospital and the Whitman Amateur Radio Club. Sessions were held on two Saturdays, using classroom facilities at South Shore Hospital. The class resulted in six hospital employees receiving their licenses, which brought the total of licensed employees to eight. Additionally, several orientation sessions were held to educate area ham volunteers with the South Shore Hospital volunteer program, policies, and culture.
Radio equipment purchased includes a Yaesu FT-8800 VHF/UHF transceiver, a Yaesu FT-450 AT HF transceiver, a Kantronics KAM XL TNC, a 35-amp Samlex power supply, and a Yaesu FT-60R handheld. The items are housed in a case with a removable platform, ready to be used as a base station. A dual-band 2-Meter/70 cm antenna and HF antenna for base station use was also purchased. The antennas have been installed on the hospital roof, and coax lines routed inside the hospital.
Photo: Jim Tovet, W1JT giving a packet radio presentation at SSHARC’s first meeting on December 11, 2010
–Thanks, Bruce Hayden, NI1X