Rescued by radio: hams direct help to trapped cars

2011-07-28 00:00

WHILE hundreds of road users around South Africa were trapped on various roads because of heavy falls of snow this week, a group of samaritans used high-tech radio to help in the rescue effort.

Hams — formally licensed amateur radio operators who belong to the Hamnet Emergency Network — use short-wave radio to pick up signals being broadcast from up to thousands of kilometres away.

One of the group members, Iain McAllister of Pietermaritzburg, said he picked up a message that there were people trapped by snow on roads around the country.

He said some of the victims they helped were as far away as Mossel Bay in the Western Cape.

The highlight was when they helped a pregnant woman and an eight-month-old baby who were stuck between Harrismith and the Tugela toll plaza near Ladysmith on Tuesday morning.

“Those people, who were apparently coming down to [KwaZulu-Natal] from Gauteng, were trapped the night before and had even run out of food. Using our equipment … we directed the traffic from the snow,” he said.

He said the group remains on the alert for any rescue service required.

“We know that the snow is still falling and we are on a stand-by,” said McAllister.

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