JACKSONVILLE, Florida – In emergencies like hurricanes or other natural disasters, often the first things you lose are electricity and the power to communicate. This is when amateur radio operators can become lifeguards on search and rescue missions when communication is essential.
The annual American Radio Relay League Field Day took place on Saturday at Hogan Baptist Ball Field in Duval County, where ham radio operators gathered to hone their craft.
John Reynolds is an amateur radio operator who communicates under the name W4IJJ, which is a call sign issued by the Federal Communications Commission.
This call sign was that of his late father, and Reynolds requested it after his father died.
He said they shared a love for radios.
This love is also shared by many people across the county, state and country.
“My personal goal is to talk to people in all 50 states in 24 hours,” said amateur radio operator Todd Lovelace.
While this is his goal, he said he keeps in mind the importance of the work of amateur radio operators.
“The point here is to go out and practice with our equipment to make sure we know how to set it up correctly and that we can use it properly in adverse conditions. (It’s) hot, rainy, miserable (here ) because that’s the way it is after an emergency, ”Lovelace said.
A 24ft antenna can be assembled in minutes with just a screwdriver and wrench.
“I can speak to the whole world from this pavilion right here. It never ceases to amaze me that I can speak to the whole world on one end of the line,” Lovelace said.
The annual exercise has been taking place since the 1950s to ensure that emergency radio communications function properly in the event of an emergency.
“I saw what happens after a storm. You always lose the cell phone, the public radio, the phone, the FM / AM, everything will disappear, so someone has to take over the communications. This is the resource n ° 1 needed by emergency (emergency) managers, ”Lovelace said.
He should know. He helped out with Hurricane Michael last year.
“I spent six days in Marianna, Florida providing communications to (an) emergency center,” Lovelace said. “Amateur radio equipment is completely independent of any infrastructure. We don’t need wireless, cable, utility company electricity, (and) we don’t need a landline. ”
This is because the radios are powered by portable generators and solar panels.
The group that got together is known as the North Florida Amateur Radio Society or NOFARS for short.
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