From The Marshall News Messenger: http://www.marshallnewsmessenger.com/news/content/news/stories/2008/063008_web_ham.html
Ham radio enthusiasts gather for 24-hour broadcasting event
Providing, in many cases, the lone link in communications during some of this nation’s most horrific catastrophes such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the massive California wildfires, amateur radio — or ham radio — operators continue to stand ready at a moment’s notice to provide what may be the only working lifeline between disaster victims and care providers.
Harrison County residents can rest assured the members of the Marshall Amateur Radio Club (MARC) stand ready and are fully trained in their role as providers of critical communication — no matter what.
Courtney Case/News Messenger
|John Wheeler of Marshall checks his radio before logging the station he found during the Marshall Amateur Radio Club’s Ham Radio Field Day Saturday at the Marshall Center for Applied Technology.
MARC held their annual Ham Radio Field Day for 24 hours starting at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Marshall Center for Applied Technology to better prepare themselves and to educate the public.
“Our Field Day serves as a dual purpose,” MARC president Kelly Spencer said. “It is a great opportunity for the ham operators to test their capabilities and locations where they may not normally operate as well as for the public to be able to come out and see what is going on with ham radio.”
With each amateur radio being fully independent and not requiring electricity or telephone lines to transmit a signal, ham radio is almost always viable despite adverse conditions.
“One of the mottoes of ham radio is ‘When all else fails, there’s ham radio,’” Spencer said. “Ham radio serves as a great back-up utility for communication in case other forms of communication fail. Often in a natural disaster you have no cell phone service or repeater capabilities for government agencies. Ham operators can move into areas of devastation quickly and set up operations to get information flowing to the authorities as well as families of those affected across the globe.”
Local resident Don Wade, a disaster specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), dropped in Saturday afternoon to participate in the activities, having recently arrived home after working tornado recovery missions in Georgia. He outlined the vital role ham operators play in disasters and how they interact with his agency.
“Ham operators and FEMA usually partner in the first part of the disaster,” Wade said. “The ham operators talk to the local folks who are affected and relay information to the appropriate authorities, usually the Red Cross initially and then, following a presidential declaration, FEMA.”
The Ham Radio Field Day capped the weeklong Amateur Radio Week sponsored across the United States by the National Association for Amateur Radio.
More than 30,000 amateur radio operators across the country took part in the association’s radio events last year.
More than 650,000 amateur radio enthusiasts hold licenses throughout the country, and more than 2.5 million are licensed worldwide.
Other more routine functions that amateur radio operators provide are transmitting ground-level weather reports of events that are missed by Doppler radar to the National Weather Service.
“We always enjoy the opportunity to serve the public agencies and this (event) also allows us the opportunity to show the capability of amateur radio in the Marshall community,” Spencer said.