Radio club demonstrates emergency equipment use

Residents shown how to assemble and use ham radios.

The South Jersey Radio Association (SJRA), an amateur radio group, hosted its field day drill at Marlton’s Savich Farm Field late last month, part of a two-day, annual event where residents could view ham radio operators in a public demonstration of emergency communications. 

The amateur radio association was first organized in 1916 and is cited as the oldest continuously meeting amateur radio club in North America. The group  held its first meeting nearly 90 years ago and now has more than 150 active members.

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According to a release, the resource of amateur radio has been noted multiple times in the Congressional Record for resources that have had a positive impact, citing the case of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana as an example. Amateur radio communities provide the ability to send messages locally, nationally and globally.

The field day event, sponsored by the nonprofit American Radio Relay League (ARRL), is a nationwide celebration of the capabilities radio amateurs have to assist in emergency communications during crises. Ham radio teams set up their equipment – including satellites and receivers – then communicate with as many other amateur stations as possible to offer non-licensed residents, above the age of six,  a station to operate the radio under the direction of a licensed operator. 

Ken Botterbrodt, chairperson of the event, explained how the field day showcases the importance radio equipment has proven to be in emergency situations worldwide while also educating the public on how to use the radios.

“The idea behind (the field day event) is that we use temporary shelters, emergency power, antennas and show (the club’s) ability to set up North American or global communications as a backup should something go wrong,” he said.

Botterbrot added that amateur radios remain a reliable method of communication even in the midst of potential local or global emergencies.

“If the internet disappeared tomorrow, the whole world’s communication is tied to it,” he explained. “For example, a solar flare could knock out our communications globally. How would someone then be able to check on their family who (lives across the country)?

“Radios allow people to deliver messages that can reach radio receivers without the use of the internet,” he added. 

For more information on the SJRA or the field day event, visit www.sjra.org.

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