Marshfield (OnFocus) – 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.
Marshfield’s “hams” will join with thousands of other Amateur Radio operators showing 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 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 27, the public will have a chance to meet and talk with Marshfield area 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 ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio. 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, 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.
“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.”
Amateur Radio is growing in the US, with over 700,000 Amateur Radio licensees in the US,
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.
The Marshﬁeld Area Amateur Radio Society (MAARS) is a club for amateur radio enthusiasts or operators and those interested in becoming an operator. Amateur Radio Operators have provided vital communications throughout history dating back to 1890, during times of war, national and local emergencies.
Present day, amateur radio operators still provide communication in many different areas. The Mission of the Marshﬁeld Area Amateur Radio Society is two-fold. First and foremost, to HAVE FUN. Second, they recruit, train and assist other committed radio operators (HAMS) carry on the tradition of amateur radio.
“We do so by using our network of technical resources and our expertise when asked,” said John Draxler, MAARS. “We provide equipment, skilled operators and emergency services when called upon by local authorities in time of need to assist and protect the citizens in the communities we live and serve.”
MAARS is dedicated to community service, providing education to the public about the history, function, beneﬁts, and normal operations for the Amateur Radio Service.
“We are a mobile service in the community that can be deployed for emergency situations,” explained Draxler. “Many of the MAARS members are trained in disaster relief operations, storm watch, and advance warning. We are familiar with analog and digital communication methods. We maintain equipment capable of worldwide communication. We adhere to the Amateur Radio creed and are considerate, loyal, progressive, friendly, balanced, and patriotic.”
In the Marshfield area, the Marshfield Area Amateur Radio Society will be demonstrating Amateur Radio at 7170 County Road B, Pittsville, 54466 on June 27. They invite the public to come and see ham radio’s new capabilities and learn how to get their own FCC radio license before the next disaster strikes.
To learn more about Amateur Radio, go to www.emergency-radio.org. 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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