WOODFORD COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — Radio is used for more than listening to music in the car. Leaders at the Woodford County Emergency Management Agency said it helps save lives every year.

In Roanoke on Saturday, Feb. 27, leaders and volunteers trained during a downed plane simulation. The group used ham radios to find someone in trouble in a situation when communication drops.

“How would we get emergency crews where they needed to go, to rescue people?” asked Search and Rescue Lead, Ben Wagner. “Part of a disaster or even regular 911 calls that come in, if we if can’t get that to happen, how are we going to get communications to go, and ham radio is that.”

Wagner said people can talk to one another through the radios, and they can provide emergency teams with a way to find someone with the same kind of radio transmitter.

“Through the use of RDF, with the antennas and the radios, they can find out what direction that radio is from their current location,” said Wagner.

Wagner said search teams are mostly made up of radio enthusiasts who volunteer their skills to save lives.

“Ham radio or amateur radio, as it’s known, is group of people that are interested in the hobby. Within ham radio is a group called ares, or ametuer radio emergency service,” said Wagner.

Volunteer Gary Knepp said radio’s simplicity makes it a reliable alternative.

“Amateur radio is the ultimate backup communication for loss of the internet [or] loss of the cellphone,” said Knepp.

Wagner said GPS location can also be affected by location and circumstance.

“If you’re laying on the device, or you’re in a metal building, GPS isn’t going to be able to find you,” said Wagner.

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