Thursday, October 15, 2009

Radio to the Rescue

Emergency services (such as the police force and fire brigade) know the vital importance of good communication. In order to avoid chaos and unnecessary casualties, it is essential to know where help is needed and what kind of help is needed. This is often easier said than done, as can be seen only too clearly from the situation with the C2000 emergency services radio system in the Netherlands. It works well in theory, but in practice it’s a different story. Emergency aid in event of a major disaster often requires creativity and unusual actions.

In 1953, the North Sea broke through the dikes and submerged large portions of the southern Netherlands. Nothing was spared: people, animals, and buildings all fell victim to the merciless flood waters. A certain Mr Hossfeld was caught in the middle of this catastrophe. Taking his son with him, he plunged into the ice-cold water, and fortunately they managed to swim to a house where they could enter through an open window and climb onto the roof. The next day they were brought to safety. After they reached dry land, they found that the emergency services were desperately short of communication equipment. Everything had literally been swept away, and the town of Zierikzee was totally cut off.

Mr Hossfeld (now 83 years old) did what he could and must do: using a few radio valves (EL3, EL6 and 807) and some coils made by winding wire around a bottle, he put together a transmitter that could deliver 10 watts of power to a 15-metre longwire antenna. This was enough to make contact with the outside world (and in a manner of speaking, it was the spiritual ancestor of the C2000 system). For five days and nights, a team of four people constantly manned the PAoZRK transmitter to coordinate assistance activities for Zierikzee.

Radio amateurs such as Mr Hossfeld played a vital role in the initial hours and days of the 1953 floods. Many lives were saved as a result of their efforts.

Our objective with the Elektor Foundation Award is to pay tribute to events such as these: people who managed to make a difference with their knowledge and efforts. Mr Hossfeld is one of the candidates for this award.

More information on the Elektor Foundation Award can be found at


  1. This is fascinating I didn't know about this until I read this blog article of yours over here. And I got a question for you. Do you have any valuable data on how to defend your own ideas from being stolen?

    1. Hi Lillian,

      thank you for your mail. This blog was published by Elektor International Media to start off with some new ideas. The ideas are for free - anyone can take, reply add.

      again thanks,

      Wisse Hettinga
      Elektor International Media