South Florida “hams” will join with thousands of amateur radio operators who will be showing off their emergency capabilities June 23-24.
Over the past few years, the news has been full of reports of ham radio operators providing critical communications during unexpected emergencies in towns across America, including California wildfires, winter storms, tornadoes and other events. During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, amateur radio — often called “ham radio” — was often the only way people could communicate, and hundreds of volunteer hams traveled there to save lives and property. When trouble is brewing, amateur radio people are often the first to provide rescuers with critical information and communications.
The Palms West Amateur Radio Club will be demonstrating amateur radio Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24 at Okeeheelee Park’s Micanopy Pavilion. The club invites the public to visit any time between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on June 23, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 24.
On the weekend of June 23-24, the public will have a chance to meet and talk with Palm Beach County ham radio operators and see for themselves what the amateur radio service is about. Showing the newest digital and satellite capabilities, voice communications and even historical Morse code, hams from across the United States will be holding public demonstrations of emergency communications abilities.
This annual event, called “Field Day,” is the climax of the weeklong Amateur Radio Week, sponsored by the Amateur Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio. Using only emergency power supplies, ham operators will construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and back yards 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 35,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year’s event.
“We hope that people will come and see for themselves this is not your grandfather’s radio anymore,” said Allen Pitts of the ARRL. “The communications that ham radio people can quickly create have saved many lives when other systems failed or were overloaded. And besides that, it’s fun!”
There are more than 700,000 amateur radio licensees in the United States and more than 2.5 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, all for free. To learn more about amateur radio, visit www.emergency-radio. org. The public is invited to come, meet and talk with the hams.