The US Air Force reports a reservist uses his amateur radio skills to support emergency responders during times of emergencies
Air Force Reserve Tech. Sgt. David Hodge KC0YCQ, who also operates Defense Meteorological Satellite Program weather satellites as a crew member, donates portions of his personal life for service to the community from what he said began as a mere hobby.
"One of the reasons why I do this is because I believe I have a skill set that not everyone has, yet can be used to help the community" Hodge said. "I'm a big geek with computers and software and in learning new things and how they work. I got interested in amateur communication and thought to myself, 'Hey, this is really cool.' I get on a radio in my house, and I can connect to a node on Cheyenne Mountain and, through the internet, talk to people in Australia and around the world. Then I started learning that anytime there is an emergency going on in the world, people lose all forms of communication- except amateur radio."
In 2012, his radio skill sets would be tested to the limit as smoke began to billow from the crevasses of Colorado Spring's nearby Waldo Canyon.
"During the Waldo Canyon fire, I was one of three operators who could initially respond to the Teller County area," he said. "I spent four days living in the Red Cross shelter at Summit Elementary School in Divide, even taking over the principal's office to set up our communications equipment. As we stood up our radios, the sheriff ended up activating Teller County Search and Rescue to watch for other fires being started."
Hodge's involvement later as Teller County's chief of search and rescue communications helped to ensure the complete evacuation of Woodland Park as search and rescue teams were ordered out of the area by the sheriff. After rallying, Hodge helped to lead teams back into the town to mark each home to indicate citizens had either evacuated, or were staying to ride out the fires.
Already a now-experienced radio operator during natural disasters, Hodge was called out, once again, to respond to 2013's Black Forest fire. When word came via e-mail from the Pikes Peak Amateur Radio Emergency Services that radio operators were needed to support the Red Cross, and needed fast, Hodge turned to his squadron operations superintendent , Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Buell.
"The flexibility of our squadron is certainly helpful for sergeant Hodge in that we understand that, if the mission is not impeded, he can go out and do what he needs to do," Buell said. "He has talents that people need to help with saving lives, so it's vital to allow him, as a resource, to get out there and help others."