Despite all the advances of modern communication — the Internet, cell phones, and E-mail — every year people find themselves in the dark and without a way to communicate. Disasters such as tropical storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and ice can leave people stranded in an emergency situation with no way to contact help.
But there is one consistent service that has does not fail — amateur radio. “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,” says a release from the David Sarnoff Radio Club. “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.”
The David Sarnoff Radio Club will conduct a public demonstration of amateur radio emergency communications on Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24, at 707 Alexander Road (behind the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey office). The event runs continuously all day and night from 2 p.m. Saturday to 2 p.m. Sunday.
The event will feature a live demonstration of ham radios in action, new capabilities of amateur radio, and ways that anyone interested can get their own FCC radio license. The event is part of a nationwide program called Field Day — the climax of the week-long Amateur Radio Week sponsored by the Amateur Radio Relay League (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.
Their slogan, “When All Else Fails, Ham Radio Works” is showcased live by 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.
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 emergency communications for thousands of state and local emergency response agencies and non-emergency community services, all for free.
“Because ham radios are not dependent on the Internet, cell towers, or other infrastructure, they work when nothing else is available,” says the release. “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 help provide disaster rescuers with critical information and communications.”