Journalist: Ellie Mahan
January 26, 2022
The Lake Whitney Amateur Radio Society, which recently formed a group called the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) group, will be hosting an all-day Winter Field Day event Saturday, January 29 at the Lake Whitney Public Library.
Rommie Bollinger, member of the ARES group and president of the Lake Whitney Amateur Radio Society, said: “I was really interested in coming into the club so that we could have this camaraderie and things like that. We all have a great time working together, organizing different events, especially field days. »
Field Days are global radio events that allow Whitney radio operators to speak to people around the world. Bollinger said that after talking to someone from another state or country, he usually never meets them in person, but radio operators can search for each other on a webpage that lets them know a bit more. on the person who was on the other side of the call.
“Anyone who is authorized goes on the radio and makes contacts anywhere in the United States, Hawaii, Alaska, anywhere you can go,” Bollinger said. “If you have the equipment and a good enough antenna and the conditions are good, you can establish contacts all over the world. It’s kind of exciting.
The ARES group that LWARS members have formed is in place to provide a communication channel when traditional telephones and cell phones have no power or service.
ARES volunteers provide communications for government agencies, disaster relief organizations, public service events, emergencies or disasters, and training exercises. ARES radio operators receive training in messaging, communication technologies, administrative procedures and disaster preparedness.
The ARES group prepares for emergencies that involve a power outage because the radio equipment the group uses is battery powered. Bollinger said the group trains a lot for emergencies he hopes will never happen, like tornadoes. Members have completed a mock emergency test that prepares them for a real emergency.
Bollinger is a retired computer network engineer. His interest in radio blossomed in 1973 when he started working at Radio Shack shortly after graduating from high school. He said his background in technology was part of what made him want to continue his education in how amateur radio works, through LWARS and ARES.
About ARES, Bollinger said, “I would say the most important part is that it’s about community service. You’re just giving back to the community what you’ve learned. You can be integral with the ability to work with different government or non-government entities. »
Radio operators assist the National Weather Service by providing what are called sky warnings. Rather than chasing the storm, band members will spot the storm and use their radio from home or wherever they are at the time and notify the National Weather Service of the weather in that location. Radio operators report hail, high winds or anything that can cause damage. Bollinger said, “We are the backup. When all else fails, there is amateur radio.
Radio enthusiasts must be licensed to be part of the ARES group. To obtain a license, a person must pass an official exam to demonstrate their knowledge and ability in amateur radio. There are three different classes of amateur radio licenses – technician, general, and additional amateur. The Lake Whitney Amateur Radio Society is a full-service club when it comes to administering the exam and helping people prepare for the exam. Mentors are there to answer questions people have during their studies. Bollinger said the license test can be a challenge, but anyone can do it. He said the 9-year-old daughter of one of the club members passed her test and got her license. He has seen many people pass the exam on the first try.
Bollinger said, “It gets a bit technical, but once you get your technician’s license, it’s pretty easy to get on the radio and be able to participate in all the fun we have.”
There are approximately 25 members of the Lake Whitney Amateur Radio Society and approximately 12 registered members of the Amateur Radio Emergency Services Team. Both groups would be happy to have new members. The ARES group meets at 10 a.m. every fourth Saturday of the month at the Emergency Operations Center in Hillsboro, 218 North Waco Street. LWARS meets every third Saturday of the month.
Anyone interested in learning more about becoming a licensed amateur radio operator can contact Rommie Bollinger at 817-487-5237 or firstname.lastname@example.org.