FELTON — Santa Cruz County amateur radio operators will be participating in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise, June 23–24, at the CalFire Ben Lomond training facility. The event promotes emergency preparedness and the practice of communications skills used in the event of a disaster. Both amateur radio enthusiasts, also known as “hams” and the general public are invited and encouraged to attend.
Hosted by the San Lorenzo Valley Amateur Radio Club (SLVARC), and held annually the last weekend in June, Field Day events start on Saturday and continue for 24 hours. This year, members of the Santa Cruz County Amateur Radio Club (SCCARC) and the UCSC Amateur Radio Club will join the SLVARC as well.
Skills practiced will include antenna building and station setup, as well as clear, concise, rapid-fire communications exchanges with other US and Canadian radio hams. Given the common recurrence of droughts, fires, floods, mudslides and earthquakes in California, communications exercises like Field Day are critical to readiness.
A special Get On The Air (GOTA) station will be available to demonstrate what ham radio is all about, giving all interested a hands-on opportunity to experience how practical, reachable and entertaining amateur radio can be. Mentors at the GOTA station will coach newly licensed hams, as well as non-licensed members of the community, providing them with a means to get on the air in a friendly, low-key environment, perfect for both first timers and youth.
Amateur Radio’s contributions to emergency service are long and well-established, providing aid after the countless hurricanes, tornados, fires, earthquakes and other disasters occurring over the years in the US and around the world.
Recently Santa Cruz County has had its own set of challenges including the Bear Fire in 2017 and the 2016 Loma Fire that caused evacuations, loss of homes and property. The winter of 2016/2017 was one of the worst in the Santa Cruz Mountains in many years, with storms and rainfall so great that mudslides and collapsed roads caused numerous road closures.
The Fall of 2017 was also one of the worst fire seasons in recent history including the Napa and Sonoma fires, as well as the Santa Barbara and Ventura fires, burning 500,000 acres in the span of a few weeks. In all of these disasters, amateur radio volunteers supported relief efforts by the Red Cross and other organizations where needed.
Sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), Field Day has grown since its inception in 1933 to over 35,000 participants, and is still going strong in 2018. Those participating in Field Day are only a small fraction of the over 725,000 licensed amateur radio operators in the US today, and more than 2.5 million worldwide as young as 5 and as old as 100.
Visitors are welcome and encouraged to drop by: CalFire Ben Lomond Camp, 13575 Empire Grade Rd, Santa Cruz, CA. This event will run 24 hours, commencing at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 23 and end at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 24. Site contact: Elizabeth Baker, firstname.lastname@example.org.