One year after the Boston Marathon bombing, Connecticut residents who were there are looking back and remembering. Harold Kramer, Chief Operating Officer of the American Radio Relay League, talked about his experience on WNPR’s Where We Live.
As a volunteer amateur radio operator, Kramer was helping with communications from the medical tent at the finish line when he said he heard what sounded like a thud. Listen to his recollection below:
"Then smoke started rolling into the tent," he said. "It smelled like that smell of sulfur and gunpowder. Then we heard a second explosion. In my headset, there were lots of communications coming through. The question at that point was, what is going on? What just happened? We don’t know."
Kramer was one of about 200 amateur radio operators volunteering at the marathon. "We were not the professional communicators," he said. "[During] the first 20 minutes, having spoken to some of the professional first responders was pretty crazy. The cell network overloaded. The text network was working. I could send a text. The radio networks just were not coordinated well the first 15 or 20 minutes. After about ten minutes, I was able to contact Amateur Radio Network Control, who said, ‘Amateur radio operators, please leave the medical tent. Stand down.'"
As Kramer was leaving, he said he saw injured victims entering the medical tent. He then went to work at the dispatch, where buses were taking runners back to the start line.
Since last year’s bombing, Kramer has spoken to groups around the country about the need for amateur radio emergency preparedness.