Members of the Island County Amateur Radio Club, or ICARC, invite the public to participate in a national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise on June 22 and 23 at South Whidbey Community Park, 5495 Maxwelton Road in Langley.
They will be among thousands of other radio operators across the nation practicing their emergency communications capabilities during this annual two-day event.
A special radio station will be available to the public for making long-distance contacts. All ages are welcome to try their hand at operating an amateur radio with the help of club members.
The station will be open between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sunday. Classes on emergency preparedness and an introduction to amateur radio will also be offered at the event.
“It is not as difficult to obtain an amateur radio license as many people believe,” noted Jack Prendergast, Emergency Coordinator for Island County Amateur Radio Emergency Services. “Learning Morse code is no longer required and nearly everyone passes the licensing exam with just a few weeks of study.”
There are more than 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 9 and as old as 100. ICARC offers amateur radio licensing classes twice a year.
Mobile telephone networks often fail during earthquakes or floods due to increased call volume.
“Since emergency responders have cell service priority, the public may not be able to use their phones during a disaster. Amateur radio networks may be the only option for calling for assistance or stay in touch with family and friends,” Prendergast said.
Extended power and internet outages due to recent wind and snow storms highlight the need for more amateur radio operators on Whidbey Island.
“Amateur radio functions completely independent of the internet or cell phone infrastructure, can interface with tablets or smart phones and can be set up almost anywhere in minutes. That’s the beauty of amateur radio during a communications outage.” Prendergast said.
For more information about Field Day, visit www.whidbeyfieldday.eventbrite.com