Randy Moore is the emergency coordinator for Williamson County’s Amateur Radio Emer-gency Service, folks who are better known as ham radio operators.
Ham radio operators have become a vital backup to the public safety emergency system. They work with emergency management in planning and execution during emergencies and disasters, such as the 2010 flood.
“Think in terms of what happens when ‘it’ hits the fan and infrastructure breaks down,” Moore said. “There are so many different ways to do ham radio.”
Along with his brother Steve, Moore also serves as a volunteer with the county’s Emergency Management Agency as part of its reserve program.
Moore, who helps maintain the emergency response trailer, has installed new radios and other pieces of equipment for the radio system in the trailer. The system works with a variety of service bands. Cellphone receivers hook to a WiFi box for internet and a satellite dome for video feed.
Moore worked with John “Butch” Coulter, the county’s communications technician, to install wireless headsets in fire trucks, law enforcement vehicles, animal control units and many other ve-hicles throughout the county that are involved in public safety response.
The project also included updating 350 pagers for city and county fire department personnel.
“We had to install a special plug from the wireless system to the new radios,” Moore said. “Basically, it’s like putting a puzzle together. When you buy that many radios, chances are a couple are going to need attention, so we check all the radios.”
Moore also routinely assists by installing and maintaining the mobile and handheld base sta-tions in the radio room of the public safety center.
“Mundane manual labor is so time-consuming,” Moore said. “There’s a lot of technology in this place. I do it so the crew can do their own stuff.”
Amid the wires, tools and equipment that each project requires is Moore’s brother Steve, who keeps up with sign-up sheets for monthly meetings and makes sure the safety center floor is void of any hazards.
“He helps with local emergency management committee meetings and cleans up afterward,” said Hannah Bleam, EMA external affairs officer. “He never has to be asked. He just does it.”
The brothers began volunteering at the safety center, which is on Beasley Drive, after touring the facility soon after it opened in April 2016.
“Someone mentioned they could use help,” said Moore, a semi-retired freelance audio-video technician with RM Media Group.
Volunteering gives him a chance to give back and make use of his expertise with electronics.
“For the last 30 years I was an AV geek,” he said. “I did speaker support (sound, video and teleprompter) for big, corporate shows.”
He was a sound technician during a Martina McBride Christmas show and he produced virtual scenery for Miracle Theater in Pigeon Forge.
That was more than six years ago, before he got involved with ham radio. Since then, he has been operating a ham radio and building radios and towers.
“When I was 7-years-old, something sparked an interest in electronics,” Moore said. “Once I got into it, I realized all the fun stuff you can do and play with, and I like building electronic radi-os.”
In emergencies, such as fires, floods, tornados or hurricanes, ham radios are often deployed to evacuation shelters to help keep track of the health and wellness of evacuees.
“Let’s say Grandma was evacuated, but she forgot her meds,” he explained. “A ham radio operator can send a concise and correct message with what she needs. Ham radio does take the bur-den off public safety officials.”
Moore is also working with Monroe Carrol Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital on a project for the children’s classroom. Funded by the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, they are building a radio/TV studio to be run by kids. Part of the project will allow them to make contact with the space station.
“There are special antennas that have to be built and a dish to receive the radio signal,” Moore said. “WCARES has a couple of guys who have built the best tracking system in the world.”
Carole Robinson may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.