The Deming Amateur Radio Club has existed since the 1970's and has endured facelifts and changing memberships. But one thing remains the same, its ability to turn a hobby into response in the event of an emergency.

The 2006 flooding of Hatch, the recent Manzano fires and even Hurricane Katrina saw Ham operators spring into action.

"Everyone looks at the hurricane down in New Orleans, and the only communications for a while were the ham operators," said N5JJF, call sign for DARC member John Franks. "In the event of an emergency, we are there to help." Franks is the vice-president for the local club.

Local law enforcement agencies often call upon amateur radio operators for help when disasters stretch resources too thin. Ham operators can provide a priceless extension to communications when emergency response workers are tied up.

DARC member Rod Finger, call sign WA2ZMN added: "We provide communications back-up and some of us are also involved in search and rescue."

Cell phone networks and land-lines may suffer in the event of a power loss, but that is not a major concern for the operators. An array of batteries and generators help keep communications afloat during the worst of scenarios.

The Federal Communications Commission requires potential amateur operators be licensed to operate.

"What the Federal government has done is make it easier for the everyday person to get involved," said Franks. "Anybody that has any kind of interest in technology or computers."

Ham radio operators do not sit around all day waiting for an emergency, they often hold regular conversations with people across the globe. Radio meetings are also not uncommon.

"Every morning we have a New Mexico Breakfast Club," said Franks. "Hams all across the state check in at 6:30 a.m."

According to Finger, an initial investment of approximately $100 can get, "A good used radio."

Franks has been operating a Ham radio for 28 years and has been a DARC member for a year.