Area first responders joined members of the Wayne Amateur Radio Club (WARC) on Saturday at the Justice Center as they began their annual 24-hour event on the grounds of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).
The agencies and offices represented were:
- Wayne County Sheriff’s Office
- dog sitter
- Diving team
- Emergency Management Agency (EMA)
- Wooster Font
- Wooster Township Fire and Rescue
- Expedition 911
- Ohio State Highway Patrol
Historically, the operation took place at Kinney Field’s communications tower on Oldman Road, but this year Sheriff’s Office Captain Doug Hunter suggested a change of venue so that first responders could participate.
“Many public safety personnel have absolutely no exposure to amateur radio,” Hunter said. “So it was a way to bring everyone together and get that amateur radio exposure that had been missing for many years.”
Exercise Field Day is a national event that attracts approximately 35,000 amateur radio operators across the country each year to hone their skills and prepare to provide communications assistance in the event of an emergency should the EMA or the law enforcement call him.
Hunter, who drove the emergency command vehicle throughout the event, explained the importance of the operator group and how public safety personnel depend on them.
“In most cases, their lines of communication (amateur radio) are on,” Hunter said. “It happened recently during the storms. A local operator stood by and heard of the severe weather heading towards the area and announced it to other stations.
Regularly, volunteer radio operators participate in marathons and other events throughout the county, such as the Wayne County Fair. The group also equips the Skywatch Tower and provides direct communication to the dispatcher who is stationed at the Sheriff’s Command Post.
“It’s a great group of volunteers. They also help with other operations,” Hunter continued. “They have helped deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, one of the volunteers spotted a man who had collapsed due to a medical condition. The man might not have been seen for a considerable time if the amateur radio operator in the elevated tower had not spotted him.
One of the advantages of amateur radio is that the equipment is portable and reliable. Hunter said most security offices have amateur radio equipment to use in difficult circumstances.
“It’s conventional analog technology, and it’s reliable,” Hunter said. “When we call licensed operators, no technology is needed other than radio and antenna. The EMA has had radios as part of its operation for many years. There are also amateur radio stations at Orrville and Wooster hospitals.
The Silvercreek Amateur Radio Association (SARA) also participated in the event.