Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.


When a disaster strikes and all power goes down, there is one group of people who pride themselves in coming through and restoring communications, which can result in getting help. It’s the Scioto County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES), an organization of the Amateur Radio Relay League that backs U.S. communications to ensure that response agencies, primarily the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), can communicate with the Emergency Operations Center and get needed resources to support the emergency response.

This coming weekend on June 25th and 26th, the Scioto County ARES will participate in the ARRL Field Day and test links to a variety of locations to ensure that vital communications can be secured in times of homeland security and disaster. Anyone interested in amateur radio is invited to stop by their radio station at the Earl Thomas Conley Riverside Park Saturday afternoon.

“ARES is directly under the Emergency Management Agencies in the state and is the back up communications for emergencies,” Scioto County EMA Director Kim Carver said. “If we loose our primary communications on MARCS System or UHF and VHF then EOC Utilizes links up with amateur radio on the repeater provided by EMA for ham radio operators to link the emergency center for the county to dispatch locations to hospitals to shelters to command centers etc. to ensure that the EOC has radio communications for direction and control of the emergency and can provide resources necessary for emergency response and recovery.”

Ever since the first Field Day was held in 1933, radio amateurs have gathered to demonstrate the rapid deployment capabilities of amateur radio to the public. The purpose of Field Day is to allow the public to witness firsthand the many nuances of amateur radio and to see how it can be used in times of crisis to provide various means of emergency communications when conventional means have failed. Although Field Day is generally considered to be an exercise for HAMS in the United Stated and Canada, operators from all across the globe will participate.

Field Day is not officially a competition, but amateurs from across the country will be gathering to vie for bragging rights. Individuals, clubs and groups will be gathering in fields, parks, county EMAs and assorted other locations to put their skills on display. Antennas and radios used in this event may not be part of a permanent installation, and must be set up during a specified time period. Also, commercial power may not be used to power the equipment used during the exercise. This is done to simulate operating under emergency conditions. Which category each group operates in is determined by several factors. The number of transmitters used, the location of the event, and the power source used, all determine what category the group falls into.

The earliest records of licensed radio amateurs come from a book published in 1909 which lists 89 licensed operators in the United States and Canada. Today there are well over half of a million licensed amateurs in the United States alone. Amateur radio has repeatedly proved its value in times of crisis from hurricanes to tornadoes and floods.

Local Radio operators will work around the clock on Saturday. Appreciation is given to the volunteers by the Emergency Management Agency for their help in times of crisis.

By Frank Lewis

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