posted on Jun, 24 2003 @ 11:28 AM
The following is an excerpt from an email I received from our area Volunteer Coordinator. Thought someone might find it interesting
"A World Wide Field Exercise for Amateur Radio Operators, June 28, 2003 Field Day, a 24 hour field exercise for Amateur Radio Operators This
world wide contest helps prepare hams for wide area disasters similar to Hurricane Andrew around Miami Florida and the Alaskan earth quake in 1964,
the largest in the US or even the small asteroid, one missed the earth just a year ago by only 75,000 miles.
When a wide area disaster occurs the communication infrastructure begins to fail.Telephones, cell phones and the internet will stop working
and the neighborhood hams will be the ones to assist in getting urgent messages to their destinations. Most of these hams will not be in the emergency
organizations. The emergency organizations will set up the infrastructure for communications long before the government agencies appear in the
neighborhoods. Even travel may be prevented by debris on the roads. Neighborhood hams will set up their radios, use car batteries or gas powered
generators to provide power for their equipment and set up antennas (just like ON field day) and start communicating. They will also use short wave
radio to communicate beyond the disaster area using what is sometimes called skip. This is the bouncing of radio signals off the ionosphere. Ham
radio is a voluntary public service, established by Federal Law, that helps during disasters, enhances good will between nations, advances radio
communication technology and maintains a large pool of radio operators just waiting to help when the time comeS. Just think of it. Hams on their own
time and at their own expense study or go to volunteer instructed classes to pass exams given by qualified ham volunteers examiners. The exams are
then results to national Volunteer Exam Coordinators who then check the exams to maintain the integrity of the system licensing system and finally
send the results to the FCC who issues the license. All of this cost the public nothing except for the issuing of the licenses by the FCC. Now, on
top of that, they gladly spend their own money to buy the equipment and help each other in the setting up their stations. Again, no cost to the
public. And then, when there is a disaster they volunteer ( hams are not obligated by law or contract) at no cost to the public to set up their
stations to help people in their community. In fact, by law, the hams cannot be paid for their service.
Now imagine what would happen if we did not have the Amateur Radio Service and the GOVERNMENT tried to provide the same service. First they would have
to recruit radio operators for pay to do all of the above at a tremendous cost to the tax payers. These operators would have to be paid a contingency
fee just to maintain their skills and equipment and stay within their communities. And then be paid much more when they go into action (active duty)
during a disaster. On top of that there would probably be some bureaucracy that would make it difficult for the people in need to send messages. The
equipment would be substandard, out dated and very expensive due to the fact that it would have been designed and built to government specifications
and paid for with government funds. The equipment hams use now has been produced by companies that have competed for the ham radio market and by doing
so the millions of hams around the world have kept prices down and advanced radio technology. A number of hams build their own radio equipment.
Amateur Radio is a necessary Voluntary Public Service cleverly disguised as a hobby. I don't think anyone could have come up with a better
system to do what hams do at any price."