Ham radio operators participate in emergency exercises
| 06.19.2006 | 07:20:43 | Views: 3558 | ID:
June 19 '06: A large hurricane strikes a coastal region, a terrorist uses a bomb to blow himself up in a subway at the same time releasing chemical agents, or a tornado destroys a community. All these scenarios require communication among first responders, medical personnel and federal, state, local and tribal officials. Sometimes that communication can be difficult because power lines have been cut, cell phone networks are jammed and communications equipment is not interoperable. Those scenarios are some of the problems ham radio operators try to solve during an annual "field day" in which more than 30,000 amateur radio operators, using only generators, batteries or solar power, from across the country participate work through scenarios testing their ability to communicate during an emergency.
The Enid News and Eagle in Oklahoma reported Sunday, that the field day event "is the climax of the week long 'Amateur Radio Week' sponsored by ARRL (American Radio Relay League)... Using only generators, batteries or solar power, the hams construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls and back yards to test their skills under all situations."According to the North County Times in California, Tony Runyon, the director of publicity for the Palomar Amateur Radio Club, said "People think that the Internet or a cell phone will save them, but when the power is out and the phone lines are jammed during an emergency, they are shocked to see they fail." Because ham radios can operate with little structure and power, the federal government has worked to build the ability of radio operators to communicate and coordinate with federal, state, local and tribal responders and officials through the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, (RACES). RACES, which is supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) works "to encompass all types of emergencies," according to the website. In Ohio, the Star Beacon reported operators in the state who are participating in the field day exercises "will be demonstrating AM, sideband, FM, digital, code and even satellite communications. Several clubs also will be experimenting with TV signals and incredibly high frequency equipment." Currently there are more about 670,000 ham radio operators in the US. Around the world, there are more than 2.5 million. Ham operators help to provide emergency communications abilities to the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, the Red Cross, Citizen Corps, the Salvation Army and state and local responder agencies.
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