Lambton, Ont., ham radio operators demonstrate disaster communication during Field Day
By Blake Ellis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
In times of a disaster when communications have been severed, ham radio operators can pull out their equipment and be in communications again in a matter of minutes.
The Lambton County Radio Club was taking part in the annual Field Day to demonstrate their abilities in case of a disaster. Set up at Krall Park in Enniskillen Township, the club was demonstrating its capabilities in case of an emergency and being able to operate off the grid with alternative sources of energy, said Club President Chuck Chivers.
The Lambton Club had their equipment set up for 24 hours starting on Saturday and running into Sunday afternoon. They were actively talking to ham radio operators all over the word, including individuals as far away as Greece and Russia.
“While this is a hobby, it is also a service, said Club Member Keith Baker. When there is an emergency and communications are down, ham radio operators can assist. When cell service and the internet are out, ham radio operators can have communications in place in the matter of minutes using shortwave radios, an antenna and wires strung in the park. They had four stations set up at the park where each could pick up other ham radios participating in field day.
There are 50 members of the Lambton County Radio Club with a lot of years of experience with ham radios. Chivers has 25 years, while Baker, a retired United States Air Force officer, has 45 years. New members are always welcome.
“You never know who you are going to talk to,” said Baker. Astronaut Chris Hadfield, Musician Joe Walsh of The Eagles and Actor Tim Allen are all ham radio operators who are given a unique call sign. When Hadfield was stationed at the international space station, he used ham radio technology to talk with people in Canada.
Ham radio enthusiasts come from all walks of life, said Baker, who said one of the most interesting parts of the hobby is the number of people you can meet around the world. Even though they are all volunteers, they are licensed by Industry Canada.
Technologies such as cell phones and satellite television were developed through the use of ham radios, said Baker.
Field Day is the most popular one-day event held by ham radio operators in Canada and the United States. There are as many as 35,000 ham radio operators participating in Canada and the United States during Field Day each year.
Blake Ellis is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for The Independent.
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