Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Lifestyles

June 23, 2014

Amateur Radio Field Day set June 28-29

CROSSVILLE — Despite the Internet, cell phones, email and modern communications, 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 consistent 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. Crossville’s “hams” will join with thousands of other Amateur Radio operators showing their emergency capabilities the weekend of June 28-29 on the grounds of the Homestead Elementary School (beneath the Homesteads Tower Museum).

Over the past year, the news has been full of reports of ham radio operators providing critical communications during unexpected emergencies in towns across America including the California wildfires, winter storms, tornadoes and other events world-wide. When trouble is brewing, Amateur Radio’s people are often the first to provide rescuers with critical information and communications.

On June 28-29, the public will have a chance to meet and talk with Cumberland County ham radio operators and see for themselves what the Amateur Radio Service is about as hams across the USA will be holding public demonstrations of emergency communications abilities. This annual event, called "Field Day," is the climax of the week-long Amateur Radio Week sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the national association for Amateur Radio. This year marks the centennial for the ARRL, which was founded in 1914.

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, the Internet, or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis. More than 40,000 amateur radio operators across the country are expected to participate in this year's event.

"The fastest way to turn a crisis into a total disaster is to lose communications,” said Allen Pitts of the ARRL. “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.”

In Crossville, the Cumberland Plateau Amateur Radio Club (CPARC) will be demonstrating Amateur Radio on the grounds of the Homestead Elementary School on the weekend of June 28-29. The public is invited to come and see ham radio’s new capabilities and learn how to get their own FCC radio license before the next disaster strikes. Homestead School is located at 3889 Hwy. 127 South in Crossville, adjacent to the Homesteads Tower Museum and near Cumberland Mountain State Park.

Amateur Radio is growing in the U.S. There are now nearly one million Amateur Radio licensees in the U.S., and nearly three million around the world. Through the ARRL’s Amateur Radio Emergency Services program, ham volunteers provide both emergency communications for thousands of state and local emergency response agencies and non-emergency community services too, completely free of charge.

The public is most cordially invited to come, meet and talk with the hams. See what modern Amateur Radio can do. They can even help you get on the air.

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