The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

June 22, 2013

Amateur radio demonstration set for this weekend

The Plateau Amateur Radio Association will demonstrate amateur radio starting at 1 p.m. today and ending at 11 a.m. Sunday at Burnwood Campground. The public can come and see ham radio’s new capabilities and learn how to get their own FCC radio license before the next disaster strikes.

Despite the Internet, cell phones and e-mail, every year whole regions find themselves in the dark. Tornadoes, fires, storms, ice and even the occasional cutting of fiber optic cables leave people without the means to communicate. In these cases, the one service that has never failed has been amateur radio.

These radio operators, often called “hams,” provide backup communications for everything from the American Red Cross to FEMA and even for the International Space Station.

Southern West Virginia “hams” are joining with thousands of other Amateur Radio operators showing their emergency capabilities this weekend. This annual event, called Field Day, is the climax of the weeklong Amateur Radio Week sponsored by the ARRL, the national association for amateur radio.

Using only emergency power supplies, ham operators will construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and backyards around the country. Their slogan, “When All Else Fails, Ham Radio Works,” 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.

“The fastest way to turn a crisis into a total disaster is to lose communications,” said Allen Pitts of the ARRL. “From earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan to tornadoes in Oklahoma, ham radio provided the most reliable communication networks in the first critical hours of the events.”

To learn more about Amateur Radio, go to www.emergency-radio.org.

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