Whidbey ham operators practice disaster
June 19, 2012 · Updated 1:54 PM
If you’ve ever wanted to see what ham radio is all about, you’ll have your chance June 23 and 24 when the Island County Amateur Radio Club pitches its tents at South Whidbey Community Park to participate in a national emergency communications event.
Ham radio buffs from throughout Whidbey Island will be among thousands nationwide operating shortwave radios at remote locations to practice their emergency communications capabilities during the annual field radio test.
Alan Whitman, club president, of Langley, said an additional radio station will be set up to demonstrate to the public how shortwave radio communications work and to allow interested persons an opportunity to talk across the nation on the radio.
“We want to offer a hearty invitation to the public to come and see for themselves what this fascinating hobby offers to people and communities,” Whitman said. “The communications networks that ham radio people can quickly create have saved many lives after natural disasters in the past several months when other systems failed or were overloaded.”
Whitman said the public is invited to visit the radio camp site beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 23, at the park’s upper most soccer field on top of the hill. Radio activities will continue throughout the night and end at 11 a.m. Sunday.
“We’re inviting the public to come meet their neighbors, see ham radio’s capabilities and learn how to get their own radio license before any disaster strikes,” Whitman said.
The Whidbey radio club broadcast from the same location last year and successfully contacted over 500 other radio operators around the nation as a means to test its communications capabilities during civil disaster conditions. The club also regularly supports local communities and governmental agencies with communications support during special events such as parades and sports events, Whitman said.
There are 650,000 amateur radio licensees in the U.S., and more than 2.5 million around the world, according to the American Radio Relay League, the hams’ national fraternal organization. Through the ARRL, ham volunteers provide emergency communications for thousands of state and local emergency response agencies nationwide, all for free.
To learn more about amateur radio, go to www.emergency-radio.org or www.arrl.org. For more information about the Island County Amateur Radio Club, go to www.w7avm.org.