Governor John E. Baldacci, KB1NXP
Thursday, February 22, 2007
In 1998, a massive ice storm hit the State of Maine. Thick sheets of ice made transportation nearly impossible. The amount of ice made traction difficult and the weight of the ice eventually became too much for power and telephone lines around the state. The University of Maine cancelled classes for more than a week and WVOM became a round-the-clock information source for people with battery-operated radios. With electricity and most forms of communication down, Governor King declared a state of emergency. During this time, Vice President Al Gore came to our state to look at the damage first hand. While he was here, he used a Ham Radio to communicate with Clarence from Dixmont. It was during that experience that I realized the importance of Ham Radio.
Rod Scribner was nice enough to help me out with my training and education for operating a ham radio. Rod would come to my office very early in the morning and would give me instructions and information. After months of training, I finally received my license in the fall of 2006…and it was a very proud day for me.
Throughout the training and in the days and months since receiving my license, I have realized the true importance of Ham Radios. The ice storm of ’98 opened my eyes to the fact that Ham Radio truly is the last form of communication when everything else goes down, but Ham Radio goes far beyond emergencies. It is a network – Ham Radio operators are all connected through the airwaves. I’ve heard from several operators who would do just about anything for anyone else. If I needed a part for my old lawn mower, I bet that if I put out a call on my Radio, someone would either have that part or let me know where I could find one. It reminds me of a “verbal Uncle Henry’s” of sorts. I have also heard a story of someone who fell down outside and couldn’t move – they put out a call over the Radio and an ambulance was dispatched almost immediately to pick him up.
Our days can all be somewhat hectic, stressful and overwhelming at times. I feel humbled to be a part of this network of almost 4,000 Ham Radio operators in Maine, 600,000 Ham Radio operators in the United States and 2 million Ham Radio operators in the world. The group of people that I have communicated with so far has been second to none and I look forward to staying in touch over the airwaves through the years. Should there ever be another emergency of ice storm proportions, I have my Ham Radio in my office next to my Homeland Security telephone. You can rest assured that Maine is in good hands.
John E. BaldacciGovernor