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Ham radio operators to meet for Field Day

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Roane County amateur radio operators will give a public demonstration of emergency communications during annual Field Day exercises June 22-23  at Fort Southwest Point , Kingston.

Despite the Internet, cellphones, email and modern communications, whole regions of the world 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, 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 and even for the International Space Station.

Roane County's hams will join with thousands of other amateur radio operators showing their emergency capabilities this weekend.

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 and tornadoes. When trouble is brewing, amateur radio’s people are often the first to provide rescuers with critical information and communications.

Members of the public attending Field Day will have a chance to meet and talk with Roane County's ham radio operators.

They’ll have the opportunity to see for themselves what the Amateur Radio Service is about, as hams across the country will have public demonstrations of emergency communications abilities.

Field Day is the climax of the weeklong Amateur Radio Week sponsored by the American Radio Relay League.

Using only emergency power supplies, ham 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 who 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,” said Allen Pitts of the ARRL. “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.”

The Roane County Amateur Radio Club welcomes the public to attend its demonstrations at the Fort Southwest Point pavilion.

Ham operators will share the radio’s capabilities and discuss steps toward obtaining FCC radio licenses.

Amateur radio is growing in the U.S. There are now more than 700,000 amateur radio licensees nationwide, and more than 2.5 million around the world.

Through the 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 at no charge.

Visit www.emergency-radio.org for more about amateur radio. Information on the Roane County Amateur Radio Club is available online at www.ke4rx.org.