For several years amateur radio operators in Clinton and Highland counties have jointly participated in a high-level emergency communications simulation of preparation for carrying out an intense response to a local, regional or national emergency where normal communications have been either been lost or overloaded. This two-day training exercise is called Field Day.
Despite the Internet, cell phones, email and other modern communications, every year whole regions find themselves cut off from the outside world. Tornadoes, fires, various types of storms, ice and even the occasional cutting of a fiber optic cable leave whole communities without a way to communicate for hours to days. Since the early days of radio communications, the one consistent service that has never failed has been amateur radio. These radio operators, called “hams” provide backup communications for everything from local governments to the Red Cross to FEMA and even the International Space Station.
Over the past year and even the past few weeks, the news has been filled with reports of hams providing critical communications from hurricanes and flooding in the Caribbean and Texas, the California wildfires, the Hawaiian volcano eruption and tornadoes in America’s heartland. Amateur radio operators are still serving “on the ground” in Puerto Rico as the island tries to rebuild its infrastructure and communications networks.
Field Day is the climax of a weeklong Amateur Radio Week sponsored by the national association for amateur radio – the American Radio Relay League. Ohio Governor Kasich has proclaimed June 23-24 as Amateur Radio Operator Appreciation Days in Ohio.
Starting on Saturday morning members of the Clinton County Amateur Radio Association and the Highland Amateur Radio Association will gather at an “off-the-grid” site near New Vienna to start the process of erecting and tweaking antennas, hooking up radio equipment, firing up generators and getting signals on the air. According to Amateur Radio Association President Jeff Collins, this exercise is similar to what would happen should something happen and the services of the amateur radio community would be requested by a local, state or national government agency.
Clinton County ARA President Paul Jellison said that Canada also participates in Field Day and more than 40,000 individual amateurs throughout North America will participate in some manner. He said that once stations are in operation, an attempt to work as many different stations as possible during the event’s 24 hours will be made using voice and digital mode. He said perhaps there may even be an attempt to contact the International Space Station as it passes overhead. Collins said a station using Morse Code is planned.
Anyone wishing to experience amateur radio in operation or to learn how to join the more than 750,000 licensed amateurs in the United States is welcome to visit anytime during the weekend. The event site is the Levo Historic Century Farm located at 810 Levo Rd., New Vienna.
Submitted by John Levo.