The Department of Homeland Security has designated September as National Preparedness Month.

As part of an initiative supported by 625 national, regional, state and local organizations, the Ellis County Amateur Radio Club is encouraging people to develop a family emergency plan to use in the event of a terrorist attack or a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado.

Details and instructional videos are available at www.ready.gov.

Kenny Hickey and his son, 11-year-old Travis, are among the ECARC members who are prepared to help in the event of an emergency.

Club members describe Travis as a “typical 11-year-old who likes music and playing basketball.”

Travis is also a licensed ham radio operator and the youngest member of the Ellis County Amateur Radio Club.

With help from his father, he passed the licensing exam June 27. Travis is now known by the call-sign KE5PEY. His profile on the QRZ.com Web site shows him sitting in his dad’s ham shack and holding his new license.

“When regular lines of communication such as telephone and cellular are damaged or without power, ham radio operators can step in and provide this essential service to emergency personnel,” a spokesman said. “They also act as storm spotters, relaying essential information to the National Weather Service from remote locations. These reports are passed on to television and radio stations to alert the public of impending danger.”

ECARC members are undergoing training for American Radio Emergency Service, which has formal agreements to provide emergency communications to FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other emergency aid organizations.

Ham radio operators participate in regular training exercises and are prepared to provide communications under emergency conditions whenever the need arises.