The Washington Times-Herald

June 21, 2013

Hammin’ it up this weekend

Lindsay Owens
Washington Times-Herald

WASHINGTON — Even with modern technology such as cell phones, internet, email and other modern forms of communication, when the weather turns bad, power is sometimes lost. Tornadoes, fires, storms and even accidents can leave people without ways to communicate for extended periods of time. But there is one source of communication that never fails: the amateur radio or ham radio.

Saturday and Sunday the public will have a chance to meet with the Daviess County amateur radio operators as “hams” across the country will hold public demonstrations of the emergency communication abilities of ham radios and their operators. Last year, over 35,000 ham operators across the country took part in the annual demonstration.

“We’ve had the event in different places over the years to help make it seem more realistic,” said Ken Holland, a member of the Daviess County Amateur Radio Club. “This year, we will be having the event at Eastside Park.”

The event will be in the Kiwanis Building beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday and will run until noon Sunday. The public is invited to attend the event to learn more about ham radios and to see how to obtain a license to operate a ham radio.

Ham radios provide backup communication for groups such as the American Red Cross and FEMA as well as for the International Space Station and many individuals.  In the last several months, reports of ham radio operators providing critical communication have spread across the country. Ham radios were used during the wildfires in California, during winter storms, and more recently during the tornadoes that swept across Oklahoma. According to a press release from the local Amateur Radio Club, ham radio operators are often the first to provide rescuers with critical information and communications during major events.

During the demonstrations, ham operators will be using only emergency power supplies and will have to construct emergency stations in shopping malls, schools back yards and other areas.

“We will have our area set up at the park but it the equipment could be set up anywhere it could be necessary,” said Holland.

The ham radio slogan, “When all else fails, ham radios work,” really rings true since the radios do not require any additional phone system, internet or other infrastructure that could be out of service during bad weather or a disaster.

Allen Pitts of the American Radio Relay League said, “The fastest way to turn a crisis into a total disaster is to lose communications. From the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to tornadoes in Missouri, ham radio provided the most reliable communication networks in the first critical hours of the events. Because ham radios are not dependent on the internet, cell towers or other infrastructure, they work when nothing else is available. We need nothing between us but air.”

For more information on the Daviess County Amateur Radio Club, please visit their website www.daviesscountyarc.org.