Thousands of ham radio operators will show off their emergency communications capabilities this weekend.

During the past months, the news has been full of reports of ham radio operators providing critical communications in emergencies worldwide.


Thousands of ham radio operators will show off their emergency communications capabilities this weekend.

During the past months, the news has been full of reports of ham radio operators providing critical communications in emergencies worldwide. During the recent tornadoes in Kansas and throughout the Midwest, and during Hurricane Katrina, Amateur Radio — often called “ham radio” — often was the only way remaining by which people could communicate. When trouble is brewing, ham radio people often are the first to provide critical information and communications, according to a local amateur radio club news release. On Saturday and Sunday, the public will have a chance to meet and talk with these ham radio operators and see for themselves what the Amateur Radio Service is about. Showing the newest digital and satellite capabilities, voice communications and even historic Morse code, hams from across the USA will be holding public demonstrations of their emergency communications abilities.

The following local groups will participate in Field Day: N0NK, Hesston College/Newton Amateur Radio Club. The local event will be at 12535 N.W. 48th St., Hesston. Contact: Kent W Stutzman, KB0RWI, at 283-1305 or kb0rwi@arrl.net. To get directions, visit the club’s Web page and see the Google map.

This annual event, called “Field Day” is the climax of the nationwide weeklong Amateur Radio Week recognized by proclamation of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Using only commercial power and emergency power supplies, ham operators will construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and backyards around the country. The slogan “When all else fails…” is more than just words to the hams as they prove they can send messages in many forms without the use of phone systems, Internet or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis. More than 34,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year’s event.

“We hope that people will come and see for themselves, this is not your grandfather’s radio anymore," said Kent Stutzman, vice president of the Newton Amateur Radio Club. “The communications networks that ham radio people can quickly create have saved many lives in the past months when other systems failed or were overloaded.”

There are 654,000 Amateur Radio operators in the United States, and more than 2.5 million around the world. Ham volunteers provide emergency communications for the DHS Citizens’ Corps, Salvation Army, FEMA and hundreds of state and local agencies, all for free.

To learn more about amateur radio, go to www.wedothat-radio.org The public is welcome.

Kansas Sen. Carolyn McGinn and Emergency Management Director Lon Buller are expected to attend.