What's the frequency? 5032.4 kHz
HF radios keep the North in touch

Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jul 27/98) - Every year, dozens of Northerners and sport hunters get lost on the land or at sea. Most who run into trouble are found safely.

But some never return. When this happens it's often because they did not have with them one of the most important survival tools, a HF radio.

"Weather changes all the time and you can't rely on the weather. The only thing you can rely on is the radio," said Taloyoak's Martha Quqqiaq.

"You use it to send messages when you're out on the land. They're really handy when someone's lost or when someone needs something," admitted Quqqiaq, executive secretary of the community's Hunters and Trappers Organization.

Radios are used just as much as telephones in the community, she said. CBs can be used within the community while HF radios allow longer communication links -- conversation can be picked up from as far away as the Baffin and Keewatin, hundreds of kilometres.

"A lot of the boats have them in now when they're out hunting and some people have them in their homes so that the wives can talk to their husbands where they're out in the boat," said Jim Noble, executive director of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board in Iqaluit.

Taloyoak's HTO has purchased seven or eight HF radios, so hunters, particularly sport hunters, can rent them out to use in case of an emergency when they go out on the land or out to see.

Like Taloyoak, Sachs Harbour residents appreciate the peace of mind CB and HF radios provide.

It's a valuable tool that keeps communication lines constantly open, said Larry Carpenter, resource person with the local HTO.

"For sport hunting actually, without it there are times probably that a few people might not have made it back to the community," he said.

"When we do a search and rescue -- in fact we did one last fall for one of the younger guys that was up on a sport hunt. His guide came back, it was very foggy, they lost him."

When the guide got back home he informed search and rescue with a radio and they began calling him every hour until they found him. Once found, other search parties were radioed to cease their search and head back into town.

Carpenter said there is no radio in his office because he works in a big metal Co-op building that interferes with the reception.

There is a HF radio, however, at the park's office that is used for emergencies, and there is usually one family in town that has a radio on at any given time in the event of an emergency.

Users can hear people on the radio as far down as Wrigley and as far as up as northern B.C.