Williamsburg Area Amateur Radio Club (WAARC) members will join thousands of Amateur Radio operators to show off their emergency capabilities this weekend. 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 wildfires, winter snow storms, tornadoes, floods and other tragic events worldwide such as Nepal's recent earthquake. During major weather events, amateur radio, usually called "ham radio", is often the ONLY way people can communicate, and hundreds of volunteer "hams" travel to the affected areas to save lives and property. When trouble is brewing, Amateur Radio's people are often the first to provide rescuers with critical information and communications. On the weekend of June 27-28, the public will have a chance to meet and talk with Williamsburg's ham radio operators and see for themselves what the Amateur Radio Service is all about. Showing the newest digital capabilities, voice communications and even historical Morse code, hams from across the USA will be holding public demonstrations of their 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 which was started over 100 years ago. 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 45,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year's event and the Williamsburg club was one of the most active in Virginia.
As the ARRL notes, this is not your grandfather's ham radio anymore. This was evidenced by the club's ham radio contact last year with an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) in conjunction with students at the Berkeley Middle School. Ham radio has also become deeply involved in the recent STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) emphasis at local schools. But besides that----- it's fun!
There are almost 800,000 Amateur Radio operators in the US, or one out of every 400 Americans, and more than 2.5 million around the world. In the Williamsburg area, local amateur radio operators serve the County and City governments, Eastern State Hospital, Colonial Chapter of the American Red Cross, College of William and Mary, Sentara and Riverside Hospitals and the neighborhood Citizen Emergency Response Teams (CERT), all for free. The Williamsburg hams will also be looking to sharpen their operating skills in anticipation of the 2015 hurricane season.
The public is most cordially invited and encouraged to come, meet and talk with the hams at any time during the operation and see what modern Amateur Radio can do. They can even help you get on the air! Williamsburg's Field Day operations will be at the Little Creek Reservoir Park in Toano and run continuously from 2:00 PM on Saturday June 27th until 2:00 PM on Sunday June 28th, 2015.
For more information about Field Day, visit www.k4rc.net.
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