Amateur radio enthusiasts in central Alberta such as John Allen (right) and Bob King gathered for a weekend to connect with like-minded people in North America. Allen, the organizer of the event, and King, spokesperson for the Central Alberta Amateur Radio Club, said the event helps the club members prepare for emergencies. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Ham radio operators in central Alberta tune in

Central Alberta Amateur Radio Club members prepared for emergencies while having some fun last weekend.

The goal of the North American Amateur Radio Field Day exercise is emergency preparedness, learning technical skills and connecting with like-minded people, said John Allen, organizer of the event and a club member.

More than 30 people came together to focus on skills, science and service, and made about 250 connections over the weekend throughout North America, including Edmonton, California, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Four towers, including seven antennas, went up west of Penhold for the exercise.

Those who came out were disconnected from any power grids and worked off generators.

“We’re not using commercial power, because it’s a practice to prepare us for in case there’s no power,” said Allen.

“The idea is to try and make contact with each other and have a bit of a demonstration.”

The skill comes in handy when there’s an emergency – when there may be a power outage and when phones are down.

“Amateur radio is set up for people when they’re displaced and to make contact with a central emergency agency,” explained Allen, adding they’re also used in case of emergencies such as wildfires.

Hams are well known for their ability to provide emergency communications in a very short time during natural disasters.

The Okanagan Mountain fire, in the summer of 2003, drew participation from the surrounding amateur radio clubs, who provided communications support. This was also the case in the 2009 fires in West Kelowna and surrounding areas.

Local ham operators were instrumental in providing support during the Pine Lake tornado, noted Allen.

“In some cases, communications between various response agencies is not the best, so we put amateurs in each place to make sure everybody knows what’s going on,” said Allen.

The Central Alberta Amateur Radio Club has about 50 members.

For many in the club, the lure of connecting with people around the world is part of the reason for taking up the hobby.

For others, the appeal is helping out in emergencies and disasters. In some situations, ham radio may be the only way to communicate.

Operators must have a licence to be on the air. For more information, visit www.caarc.ca.



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reported 323 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)
‘We’re in a danger zone,’ says Hinshaw

The province’s top doctor says “we’re in a danger zone” when it… Continue reading

Mayor Tara Veer pleads with the premier Tuesday to review the decision to move to a consolidated EMS dispatch system, which will be moved to three centres across the province. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
‘Issue of life and death’: mayors plead with government to halt consolidated EMS dispatch

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer calls on premier to overturn consolidated EMS dispatch decision

A $2.3-billion expansion of Alberta’s natural gas transportation system has been approved. “This should provide significant benefits — and we need every little bit of economic boost we can get,” says Reg Warkentin, policy adviser for the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Flickr photo)
Red Deer-area to benefit from $2.3 billion gas pipeline expansion project

Project will add 344 km of new pipeline between RMH and Grande Prairie

Dustin Snider was elected the new board president for Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Earl’s Restaurant manager re-elected Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce president

Dustin Snider has been re-elected president of the Red Deer & Distict… Continue reading

Red Deer singer Kayla Williams hopes listeners fed up with the pandemic are comforted by her new song, Stealing from My Youth, which is digitally available for streaming on Friday. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer singer summarizes universal pandemic feelings in a new single

Kayla Williams releases ‘Stealing From My Youth’ on Friday

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw warms up before Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Kershaw, LA stars shine, Dodgers top Rays 8-3 in WS opener

Kershaw, LA stars shine, Dodgers top Rays 8-3 in WS opener

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford leaps over a challenge by PSG's Presnel Kimpembe during the Champions League group H soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Man United wins again at PSG; Messi scores in Barca rout

Man United wins again at PSG; Messi scores in Barca rout

Hamilton Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis, right, hugs captain Kyle Bekker following their victory in the Canadian Premier League soccer final against the Calgary Cavalry in Calgary, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Under Smyrniotis, Forge FC has been the class of the Canadian Premier League. The two-time champions from Hamilton look to mark their internationally this week as they open CONCACAF League play in El Salvador. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis’ influence on Canadian soccer continues to grow

Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis’ influence on Canadian soccer continues to grow

Players' sticks are shown during a World Hockey Championships game in Moscow, Russia on Thursday, May 12, 2016. A senior hockey team in a small city in southern Manitoba has changed its name following a push against the use of Indigenous names and caricatures as mascots. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ivan Sekretarev
Manitoba senior hockey team changes Indigenous name to Bombers

Manitoba senior hockey team changes Indigenous name to Bombers

Jason Kokrak tees off during the final round of the CJ Cup golf tournament at Shadow Creek Golf Course Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in North Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Long drive champ Berkshire looking to compete in tournaments

Long drive champ Berkshire looking to compete in tournaments

The Los Angeles Dodgers line up during during the national anthem and a fly over before Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Pandemic World Series draws smallest crowd in over century

Pandemic World Series draws smallest crowd in over century

Keegan Messing performs in the Gala at the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Messing dedicating his Skate America performance to grounded Canadian teammates

Messing dedicating his Skate America performance to grounded Canadian teammates

Most Read