Working with government agencies to relieve this stress on communications and provide other assistance are amateur radio operators.
Individuals licensed by the Federal Communications Commission are equipped to set up their radio sets following tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters and get on the air without standard communications and commercially produced electricity.
To demonstrate the ability of local amateur radio personnel to respond in this type of situation the Cleveland Amateur Radio Club will be setting up their radios and antennas at Red Clay State Historic Park during Field Day, a national communications training exercise.
The public display will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, and continue for almost 24 hours.
The exercise provides valuable training to help participants prepare for an actual emergency.
What exactly is amateur radio? Many folks may know them by the nickname they have acquired over time, “ham,” and their hobby is known as “ham radio.” But it is more than a hobby and most personnel volunteer their time and equipment during local disasters.
Field Day attracts hundreds of groups encompassing thousands of operators from across the United States and in several foreign countries. It is sponsored each June by the American Radio League and is a part of their Amateur Radio Emergency Services organization.
“Field Day is a highlight of the year for anyone pursuing an interest in amateur radio,” said Buddy Kimsey, WA4NIV, chairman of the CARC planning committee. “It gives a true sense of what it is all about.”
This is an opportunity for the public to see how amateur radio personnel have responded to disasters since the hobby began more than 80 years ago.
Last year the CARC placed fifth in the nation in the number of people visiting the Field Day site.
“It was good to see so many people stop by last year to learn more about amateur radio,” said CARC President Derek Wooley KD5UBL. “We had over 100 people to sign our guest register. Many were families enjoying a stroll through the naturally wooded beauty of the park, but we also had an out-of-town scouting group who heard about our Field Day plans and decided to come by.”
Field Day groups receive points for each over the air contact they make. Bonus points are added for using emergency power, providing information about the hobby to visitors, and having local officials to take part.
The ARRL encourages participants to conduct their activities in public places, letting non-hams see what it is all about.
“New hams or prospective hams can pick up a lot about the hobby and our role in public service communications from ‘seasoned’ veterans,” Wooley explained. “This is a time of fun, education, and fellowship. The CARC would like to extend an invitation to all of Cleveland and Bradley County to come see what ham radio is all about and how we can serve you.”