Last updated: July 25. 2013 9:10AM - 268 Views

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Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Sometimes when major disasters such as tornadoes and floods occur, the normal means of communication are wiped out. That is where Amateur Radio operators come in.

On Saturday, June 22 and 23, the public is invited to observe Field Day, sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, performed locally by the Portsmouth Radio Club on Hope Road in South Webster. The event will go from 2 p.m. on Saturday and will run until 2 p.m. on Sunday. A map of the location is available on the www.portsmouthradioclub.org website.

“This is a national event through the American Radio Relay League,” Bill Massie, public information officer for the club said. “And they do it each June.”

Vassar said the event is a competition, but it also gets everyone involved prepared to make sure they have the equipment and skills necessary to make emergency communications.

“If a tornado hit, for example, or if there was a flood, or a snow emergency, things like that,” Massie said. “Those are things we have dealt with before. When other forms of communication, like cell phones, electrical outages, and other people’s repeaters go down, we are able to establish communications when everything else fails.”

Vassar said Amateur Radio operators are right now working in Oklahoma in the aftermath of the huge storm last week.

“There are 191 Amateur Radio operators in Scioto County,” Massie said. “Not all of them belong to the club. Not all of them are active. But they can become active at any time. But there are at least 50 or more that are active on a regular basis. Our particular club probably only has about 25 members.”

Vassar said one of the important parts of the Field Day event is to get more people interested in Amateur Radio.

“It might build interest by other people wanting to do the same thing,” Massie said.

Vassar said the American Radio Relay League has done away with the novice class and Morse Code, and now has an entry-level status.

“It’s real easy for people to get into,” Massie said. “They made it easy so as more people become interested, we actually have classes too. We teach people what they need to know to get their license. A lot of times you get your foot in the door when you get your license, and then you start learning everything that you need to learn. Because you can’t expect people to know it all before they get their license, or they might wait 30 years before they get a license.”

Founded in 1914, the American Radio Relay League is the national association for amateur radio in the USA. Today, with more than 160,000 members, the ARRL is the largest organization of radio amateurs in the world. The ARRL’s mission is based on five core areas or “pillars”: Public Service, Advocacy, Education, Technology, and Membership.

The Portsmouth Radio Club was started on June 14, 1949.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.

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