One of the benefits of being an amateur radio enthusiast is that all you need is to have a love for the hobby and an occasional desire to serve the community in an emergency.
This was demonstrated last weekend at the North Fort Myers Community Park under the covered concession stand as many ham radio operators gathered for the second of two days of ham radio.
This summer’s version had a few extra treats for people who came and visited, including a fire and rescue truck from Naples that brought its own 100ft tower antenna to help attract more operators of the whole county.
John Wells, spokesman for the Fort Myers Amateur Radio Club, said the event allowed radio operators to practice their skills in real-life emergencies and show the public what amateur radio is all about.
“We train for emergencies and other activities away from home. We go out with other operators and invite the public. We will be here for 24 hours,” says Wells.
Krihis Clock, an engineer with Naples Fire & Rescue, brought a mutual aid communications trailer to bring local emergency communications with a large antenna for Region 6 (much of Southwest Florida).
“We can use it to provide communications or augment their systems if they have a big event and need more radios,” The clock said. “In an emergency, we would go to a requested area and deploy it. We can do it in a day.
Field Day has been held across the country since 1933, summer and winter, so operators can practice in the field if they become the primary source of communication during an emergency such as a hurricane.
More than 35,000 people from thousands of locations participate in Field Day each year. There are more than 775,000 licensed amateur radio operators in the United States, operated by people of all ages and backgrounds.
Technology has evolved, allowing everyone to participate.
Dan Blashill, a resident of North Fort Myers, is visually impaired and needs help operating his radio via technology with things like voice commands and the computer reading what he needs to know.
“All they need to know is the club’s call sign, class and we’re from South Florida. It’s a quick trade. There’s no time for the conversation. said Blashill. “I’m from Kansas City, so if I hear someone from Missouri, I can ask where, but pretty much there’s no conversation.”