COVID-19 and the HARN Exercise
The Sullivan Amateur Radio Club has been and continues to be committed to providing ham radio operators to the Missouri Baptist Hospital in Sullivan for the purpose of Emergency Communications. This is being practiced on an ongoing basis by our members coming to the hospital on a monthly basis to participate in the Hospital Amateur Radio Network (HARN) exercise on the second Friday of every month.
As I’m sure you’re all aware, the country, and indeed the world, is presently in the grip of great concern over the spread and effects of the COVID-19 virus. Clearly, this is a serious public health consideration and I hope we are all taking appropriate precautions, both short and long term. I know it’s difficult to really evaluate the personal risks due to the hyperbole that is ever present in the news media. And real facts are few and far between but more is being learned about the virus every day. I urge you to take in as much information as you can from VARIED sources and then draw your own conclusions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working vigorously to stay on top of the outbreak of COVID-19. See their web page HERE (https://cdc.gov) for more information. They have specific recommendations HERE for prevention and treatment. At this time, they are not recommending general wide spread quarantine.
As in any emergency, we each need to take care of our own situation first, ourselves and our families, before we can be of help to others. This extends to how we evaluate the risk of helping or volunteering and what risks we are willing to take. I believe that each of us needs to consciously make that evaluation as rationally and realistically as possible.
As the President of the Sullivan Amateur Radio Club, I feel the need to speak out about our involvement in the HARN exercises. On one hand, this is potentially the sort of thing that we might be needed for if the situation got markedly worse and there was a breakdown in traditional communications. On the other hand, I am well aware of the potential risks of visiting a facility where there are so many sick people. I have had my own personal concerns about that, before the COVID-19 outbreak, having had an experience where I contracted pneumonia from a short stay at a hospital a few years back.
I urge each of you to reflect on this and draw your own conclusions. This is what we should expect from everyone. At this time, for me, I have concluded that there is no additional risk at the hospital due to the COVID-19 virus than there might have been for me all along. I will keep monitoring. Consequently, I am planning on participating in the exercise on March 13, 2020.
Take good care of yourselves, be safe and well. May God bless us, one and all!
Bill Higgins (N0NOE)
Sullivan Amateur Radio Club