Ham operators gather for 24-hour field day

From Staff Reports

June 29, 2008 - Thousands of ham radio operators across the state are showing off their emergency capabilities this weekend, including those from the Hopkins and Rains County area.

This weekend is designed to allow the general public to meet and talk with the 660,000 ham radio operators in the United States and see for themselves what the Amateur Radio Service is about.

In the Sulphur Springs area, the Hopkins County Amateur Radio Club and Rains Amateur Radio Association began demonstrating amateur radio at Sulphur Springs Municipal Airport in the Civil Air Patrol Building Saturday at noon. The 24-hour "Field Day" event continues through noon Sunday. Group members invite the public to see ham radio's capabilities and learn how to get their own FCC radio license.

So why is amateur radio important, particularly to emergency services?

Amateur or "ham" radio operators provide critical communications in emergencies world-wide. During Hurricane Katrina, amateur radio was often the only way people could communicate, and hundreds of volunteer "hams" traveled south to save lives and property. When trouble is brewing, ham radio people are often the first to provide critical information and communications.

Using only emergency power supplies, ham operators can construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and back yards around the country. Their slogan, "When all else fails" is more than just words to the ham operators who send messages in many forms without the use of phone systems, Internet or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis.

To better inform the public about what they do, amateur radio annually holds a "Field Day," which is the climax of the week long "Amateur Radio Week" sponsored by the ARRL, the National Association for Amateur Radio (also Amateur Radio Relay League).

More than 30,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year's event.

"We hope that people will come and see for themselves, this is not your grandfather's radio anymore," said Allen Pitts of the ARRL. "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."

To find the CAP building where the amateur radio operators will be set up Saturday-Sunday, just go to Sulphur Springs Municipal Airport, located on Hillcrest Drive, and follow the signs.

To learn more about Amateur Radio, go to www.emergency-radio.org. For more information about this weekend's Field Day in Sulphur Springs, go online to:

www.K5SST.org,

www.W5ENT.org and

www.ARRL.org

or call Ed Olague, K5OLA, at 903-513-4601..

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