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Ham radio field day set for June 27

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, according to a press release from the Unicoi County Radio Club, 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 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and even for the International Space Station.
Unicoi County “hams” will join with thousands of other amateur radio operators showing their emergency capabilities on Saturday, June 27.
Over the past years, 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 worldwide, a recent press release said.
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 the chance to meet and talk with Unicoi County ham radio operators and see for themselves what the amateur radio service is about.
This annual event, called “Field Day,” is the climax of the weeklong “Amateur Radio Week” sponsored by the ARRL, the national association for amateur radio. Using only emergency power supplies, ham radio 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,” Allen Pitts of the ARRL said. “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.”
At the Tennessee Welcome Center, the Unicoi County Radio Club will be demonstrating amateur radio on June 27 starting at 2 p.m. The Welcome Center is located off Exit 46 on Interstate 26.
The club invites 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.
According to the club, amateur radio is growing in the United States. There are now more than 700,000 amateur radio licenses in the U.S. and more than 2.5 million around the world.
Through 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, all for free.
To learn more about amateur radio, go to www.ucara.org.
The public is 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.