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A Picture from History: I Will Stay

America had plenty of advance notice that Hurricane Katrina was on its way.

Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina (Photo: NASA)

Likewise, the country knew it was going to be bad. Hearing this, however, one man decided there was something he could do to make a difference.

Grabbing his portable, battery-operated ham radio station, Richard Webb made his way to New Orleans’ Charity Hospital.

Charity Hospital New Orleans
Charity Hospital in New Orleans (Photo: Niels Olson via WikiCommons)

There was only one problem…

He was blind.

Katrina Makes Landfall

Katrina hit. It was everything anticipated and more.

As the floodwaters rose throughout Louisiana, Webb sat at the hospital relaying messages for those in need.

An Army National Guard air crew member looks out at the flooded streets of New Orleans.

There was no electricity, no phone service, and the hospital didn’t even have running water. The ability to perform any level of advanced quality care was long gone.  

For one pregnant woman, however, the hospital was her only hope.

She was already in labor and waded through floodwater to make it to the hospital — scared, wet, and cold.

Large parts of New Orleans remain flooded two weeks after several levees failed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. (Photo: Bob McMillan/ FEMA)

After an assessment by doctors, it was quickly determined that the woman needed an emergency c-section if her baby would have any chance of survival.

If these two were to have any chance of living, mom and baby needed medivac quickly. But, again, there were no phones.

But in stepped Webb…

Over the Radio Waves

He began to broadcast. He offered where he was and what was needed.

Emergency communications chain quickly developed as other ham radio operators furthered the message down the chain.

Ham Radios
Ham radio

Not long afterward, a helicopter was sighted…the medivac.

The woman was airlifted away from the hospital and taken to a hospital with power. She received an emergency c-section, and both she and the baby lived.

And all because Webb was willing to use his ham skills, abilities, and gear to save the lives of others.

Ham Radio Shack Yaesu VX6

This is a new style of article for Pew Pew Tactical; if you liked it — let us know in the comments! If you didn’t enjoy it…well phooey. To catch up on previous Pictures from History, click on over to our History Category.

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15 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Gregory E Harber

    Thanks for the wonderful, uplifting story!!!

    September 14, 2021 11:43 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Eric Thompson

    Fantastic read! We need more of that for sure. Reading how people use their tools to help others is an upbeat concept. And we could all use good news once in a while...

    September 13, 2021 2:42 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Great Article - definitely do more of this.

    September 12, 2021 7:11 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Marion McMillan

    Loved it. Amateur radio is right up the Preppers alley and a lifesaving skill in emergency situations. So when you’re stockpiling weapons, ammunition, and food, please consider becoming a licensed radio operator. The license doesn’t matter when the SHTF, but you need to practice using your equipment before it’s actually needed. Keep em coming.

    September 12, 2021 6:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Aden Tate

      Practice is key with radio. It can be a rough learning curve - mainly because of the testing process which was built by engineers for engineers - but once you pass that, getting on air is relatively straightforward.

      September 12, 2021 6:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Vincent Alberry

    Bloody HERO. It's stories like this, that makes days like these, more bearable.

    September 12, 2021 5:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Well done, from KI5KQV, to whomever the HAM was. Well done. Alan, great job getting the info and putting it out there. There will be hundreds now that will study, test and join the HAM community.

    September 11, 2021 7:30 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I like it.

    September 11, 2021 3:31 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Aden Tate

      Thanks, Grunthos.

      I can't help but picture Groot saying your name.

      September 11, 2021 8:39 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I, hope these words reach Ronnie(musician) Millsap. We is also a ham operator and has been one for years.
    Thank you for the article.

    September 11, 2021 3:30 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Aden Tate

      Glad you liked it Marky Mark. It was a blast to research and write.

      September 11, 2021 8:39 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I have my ham license. The media concentrated on New Orleans but Mississippi was harder hit. For the first two weeks amateur radio was the only communication resources in much of Mississippi. Hams traveled at their own expense (FCC forbids compensation). Using their own equipment they installed their radios and antennas in both semi's and government vehicles (such as forest service trucks from California). It was these vehicles carrying ham radio operators that coordinated delivery of food, water and other supplies.
    It wasn't until two weeks after Katrina that the first semi trailer portable cell phone system arrived.
    Hat's off to all the hams that volunteer their time, resources and expertise. It is events like Katrina that prove that amateur radio is a national asset and still relevant in today's world.

    September 10, 2021 9:08 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Aden Tate

      I agree. Ham radio rocks.

      I think at the very least - should one not want to study for the licensure test - one should get invested in CB radio. It's most certainly better than nothing, and can easily save lives.

      September 11, 2021 8:36 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Regular Guy

    Loved it! Blind, and doing more with his skills than those who can see. That guy deserves a beer, or two.

    September 10, 2021 11:49 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Aden Tate

      It's a story that gives me chills. That guy was a true man - willing to use what he had to save the lives of others.

      September 11, 2021 8:38 am
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