Local "Radio Hams" join in national deployment
FILE PHOTO/ANDREW LEIBENGUTH Pictured are Tamaqua Wireless Assocation amateur radio volunteers taking part in a past offsite radio exercise. The public is encouraged to stop by their Locust Lake training grove this weekend to learn more about amateur radio.
Volunteers with the Tamaqua Wireless Association (TWA), Schuylkill Amateur Repeater Association (SARS) and other local amateur radio operators, also known as radio hams, will join more than 30,000 other amateur radio operators nationwide to display their combined emergency capabilities Saturday and Sunday during a operational field day to be held in communities throughout the nation.
The local field day will be held at their TWA Grove located in Locust Valley, west of the Tuscarora State Park.
The public is encouraged to stop and will have a chance to meet and talk with Tamaqua area ham radio operators and see what the Amateur Radio Service does.
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, to include the California wildfires, winter storms, tornadoes and other events worldwide. During Hurricane Katrina, amateur radio, often called "ham radio", was often the only way people could communicate. Hundreds of volunteer "hams" traveled south to help with communications in the effort to save lives and property.
Amateur radio operators are often one of the first to provide rescuers with critical information when other modern means of communications are not operational.
Nationwide, the two-day field day event will show the newest digital and satellite capabilities, voice communications and even historic Morse code. This annual event, called "Field Day" is the climax of the week-long "Amateur Radio Week" sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), who represents the national association for amateur radio. Using only emergency power supplies, ham operators nationwide will construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and backyards. Their slogan, "When all else fails, Ham radio works," will be put to the test as operators 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 America participated in last year's field day. "We hope that people will come and see for themselves, this is not your grandfather's radio anymore," said Allen Pitts, Media and Public Relations manager, ARRL.
In the Tamaqua and Locust Valley area, the TWA will be demonstrating amateur radio all day this Saturday and Sunday at their grove located adjacent to the Schroeder's Tree Farm. TWA Grove is located in Locust Valley, just west of Tuscarora State Park and White Birch Golf Course located in Barnesville.
To get there, drive past the Tuscarora Park's main entrance and travel left around the Golf Course to a "T" in the road, make a left turn. Travel past Chee Street to top of hill and turn right at dirt road (Christmas tree farm). Then continue on dirt road and bear left at fork in road. Anyone is welcome to attend and see the ham radio's new capabilities and learn how to get their own FCC radio license before the next disaster strikes.
There are more than 685,000 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 free emergency communications for thousands of state and local emergency reponse agencies and non-emergency community services.
To learn more about the event, Amateur Radio or the Tamaqua Wireless Assocation, visit the TWA's regularly-updated website at www.w3cma.org or contact member Allen Briener at (570) 668-5198. "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." added Pitts.