Ever wonder how people communicate when traditional communications sources are knocked out during hazardous and emergency situations? Often times, ham radio operators step in with broadband radio and emergency power supplies to assist.
“Their slogan, ‘When all else fails …’ is more than just words to the hams as they prove they can send messages in many forms without the use of phone systems, internet or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis,” noted Ed Olague, with Hopkins County Amateur Radio Club.
This weekend, local and area residents will have an opportunity to get a gander at the Field Day being hosted on the downtown square. The Hopkins County Amateur Radio Club and Rains Amateur Radio Association will begin setting up at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 22. On-air operations will begin at noon Saturday and continue through noon Sunday, June 23. The two groups invite the public to stop by and observe ham radio capabilities and learn how to get their own FCC radio license before the next disaster strikes.
"We hope that people will come and see for themselves, this is not your grandfather's radio anymore. The communications networks that ham radio people can quickly create have saved many lives in the past months when other systems failed or were overloaded,” said Olague.
For instance, during Hurricanes Katrina, hundreds of volunteer hams, licensed amateur radio operators, traveled south to prove a means of communication between citizens and emergency officials. Amateur radio was also used to aid communication between agencies in New York City on 9/11. There are almost 700,000 amateur radio operators in the United States, and more than 2 million in nearly every country around the world. Through the Amateur Radio Relay League, ham volunteers provide emergency communications for the Department of Homeland Security Citizens' Corps, the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Federam Emergency Management Agency and thousands of state and local agencies, all for free.
While amateur radio can be play a vital role in emergency situations, many also receive FCC certification as ham operators for the fun of communicating with people across the country, around the globe and in some instances the capability to communicate with astronauts on the International Space Station. Some enjoy experimenting with “cutting edge technology” and “being creators, not just consumers, of wireless technology,” according to the ARRL website.
Each year, ARRL and the National Association for Amateur Radio, host Amateur Radio Week to show off their capabilities, educate the general public about ham radio operations and let people see for themselves what it’s all about. The week will conclude with a Field Day, where ham operators hold demonstrations of their emergency communications capabilities in communities.
To learn more about Amateur Radio, go to www.arrl.org.
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