Hams Prepare for Disaster!
Hurricanes, ice storms, floods – no matter what the disaster, emergency officials all over North America will be better able to communicate thanks to the efforts of Amateur Radio operators and their annual Field Day exercise on the weekend of 25-26 June 2016.
For over 100 years, Amateur Radio has allowed millions of people to experiment with electronics and communications techniques. Amateur Radio operators are private individuals licensed by Industry Canada to operate two-way radio equipment for non commercial purposes. Also known as “Hams”, they have a proud history of helping in times of disaster. They provided invaluable assistance during the Ice Storm of 1998, the crash of Swissair 111, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Today, Amateur Radio operators are providing essential communications for emergency officials in fire-ravaged Fort McMurray, and are often the only link to the outside world for remote communities.
Organized by the American Radio Relay League, Field Day is an emergency preparedness exercise that encourages Amateur Radio operators to step away from the regular electrical grid and power their station using emergency systems instead. Gasoline generators are the most common source of electricity for Field Day, but solar cells, wind turbines and even hand-cranked alternators can be found. The objective of Field Day is to make contact with as many stations as possible while operating under simulated emergency conditions.
Amateur Radio has been described as the only failsafe communications network in the world. Even if the regular infrastructure has been destroyed, hams can set up portable stations and quickly re-establish communications in a disaster zone.
Amateur Radio operators come from all walks of life, from Nobel Prize winning astrophysicists to your next-door neighbour. Today, almost all astronauts are hams, and Amateur Radio contacts with the International Space Station are a daily occurrence. Far from the popular image of old men hunched over Morse code keys, Amateur Radio is actually a dynamic hobby that uses state-of-the-art technology. Hams communicate with a wide variety of voice, image and digital modes, using exotic techniques such as bouncing signals off the Moon or the trails left by meteors. Whatever their background, Amateur Radio operators all share a love for the magic of radio.
The Annapolis Valley Amateur Radio Club will establish a complete emergency station for Field Day at the Cottage Cove Picnic Park, located 1.5 km southwest of Port George on Shore Road East. Setup will start on the morning of Saturday 25 June, and operations will continue until late Sunday afternoon. Members of the public are very welcome to drop by and learn more about Amateur Radio. A station will be available for visitors to get on the air as well if they would like to try their hand at radio communication!
Detailed information about the plan for Field Day will be released in the next week. For more information contact Al Penney at (902) 847-0554, or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to the club’s website: http://avarc.ca/