Turn up your radios! Radio operators go on air this weekend

By Meg Olson

This weekend the Point Roberts Amateur Radio Club will be on the air at the Gulf Road Community Center communicating with hundreds of other radio operators all over North America.
Starting on Friday, June 22, local amateur radio operators, or “hams,” will set up an emergency communications center outside the Point Roberts community center. They go on the air at 11 a.m. on Saturday June 23 as part of the American Radio Relay League’s (ARRL) annual Field Day.
The nationwide event allows amateur radio operators a chance to collaborate on the rapid deployment of emergency communications equipment, practice using it and get community members involved. For 24 hours, local hams will man the radios outside the community center and connect with other hams in Canada and the U.S.
“It’s a contest to see how many people you can contact on how many different bands and how diverse those contacts are,” said radio club member Halden Field. “There’s the emergency preparedness part. There’s a technical part because it’s technically challenging. It’s an organizational challenge and finally it’s a challenge to make and log the contacts.”

The Point Roberts club has been growing and working with the Point Roberts Emergency Preparedness committee (PREP) to develop a reliable auxiliary communications service that will keep the Point connected in an emergency. Through grants from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) they have been able to purchase radio equipment that will be stored in the PREP trailer (also acquired through a PSE grant) and a new community antenna that will be mounted at the community center as part of the weekend’s events.

“This is really about getting to use our skills,” Field said. “When the earth starts shaking we won’t have the time to read manuals.”

Radio club president Tom Bailey said the club was connected with other auxiliary communications services in the county and the network has a regular weekly check in. In case of an emergency that takes out phone and internet service, the club aims to be ready to handle communications needs outside the scope and capacity of regular emergency communications channels.

In addition to being a way for existing club members to hone their skills, this weekend’s event is a way to reach out to community members and get more people trained. “If we can get more people out to learn about ham radios, when we do this next time we’ll be more capable,” Field said.

Whether it’s trying to score high in next year’s Field Day contest or keep the Point connected in an emergency, more trained operators will be the key to success, “and it’s fun!” Field said.

The communications center will be on the air starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday until everyone goes to sleep and will start up again Sunday morning at 8 a.m. Additionally, on Sunday morning the local fire department will help the club install the new community center antenna.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.