In the spirit of the holiday season, some Amateur Radio (ham) operators across the country have found a way to bring joy to hospitalized children. Thanks to the world-wide range of Amateur Radio equipment, it's possible for hams to communicate with other hams almost anywhere on earth, including the North Pole. Fortunately, Santa Claus is able to take time from his busy gift production duties to speak individually to the hospitalized kids.
In southern California, members of the Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS) annually take their portable ham sets to Childrens Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). Using the North Pole Network (NPN), which purports to use a special amateur satellite link, ionospheric propagation and VHF relays, kids can talk one-on-one to St. Nick without having to leave their hospital rooms.
The globe-spanning NPN link means that HDSCS doesn't have to rely on ordinary Santa-helpers who can only ask, "What is your name and what do you want for Christmas?" As one patient put it, we talk directly to "the Man, the real one!" During NPN contacts, Santa is in his North Pole office where he has access to his mega-computer system. Thanks to the computer and lots of advance "elf" work by hospital staff, Santa already knows which patient is in each hospital room and he has a lot of information already stored about each child and family. The NPN connection gives Santa a chance to make final updates to his gift request database before loading his sleigh on Christmas Eve. It also affords him a chance to send greetings and wishes for happiness and a return to good health.
The founder and leader of the Orange County's North Pole Network is April Moell WA6OPS. In addition to CHOC, NPN occasionally visits other Orange County medical facilities, including rehabilitation centers for both adults and children.
To learn more about NPN and how it works, read these articles:
To see NPN in action, click to our photo pages:
Our North Pole Network has been featured in the Group W Television production "There Really Is a Santa Claus" as well as a news story on KTTV Channel 11 in Los Angeles. There have been articles about NPN in several publications including NurseZone, a Web site for the nursing profession.
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Text and images on this page ©Joseph D. Moell. Republication of any content in this site without permission is prohibited.
This page updated 25 November 2015
This North Pole Network Web site exists to encourage Amateur Radio groups all over the country and the world to sponsor their own local North Pole Network events. We are always pleased to hear from other groups.