Eastern Carolina amateur radio club puts emergency response skills to the test

Eastern Carolina amateur radio club puts emergency response skills to the test
Published: Jan. 29, 2023 at 6:57 PM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A county amateur radio club meets in an Eastern Carolina city east twice a year to practice critical public service for the community.

The Onslow Amateur Radio Club members enjoy connecting with other radio enthusiasts over sound waves, but at their annual Winter Field Day, OARC and other amateur clubs practiced turning their hobby into an emergency resource.

“This is an application where we come out in something that’s not our normal and set things up. These antennas were put up in a matter of hours, and we try to contact everybody,” said ORAC President Tim Mahlow.

Mahlow said they and others apart of amateur radio serve the disaster relief teams in their community. Over two days, they set up in remote locations and practiced connecting as quickly as possible to each other, so they can be the reliable line of communication when normal connections are down.

“We support the county when there’s hurricanes and bad things happening if they have something, if they activate shelters, we go to the shelters and set up and set up the same kinds of things and be able to support the county. Support the people who are in the shelters and report back to the county or the state,” said Mahlow.

But the amateur club can also help those outside of the community. ORAC was able to make contact with 517 radio operators from all over the world, from Russia, China, and Africa, to Europe and Antarctica.

“I would say that would be quite a few contacts, and some of the rarest ones was Hawaii. Yesterday we talk to Hawaii; we heard Alaska were hearing all kinds of foreign stations coming in from Europe, and yesterday, we even heard Brazil down in South America,” said emergency coordinator, Randy Scott

This exercise can happen from anywhere. OARC has four setups, with one even being in an old ambulance because there are only a few things needed for setup.

“This is point-to-point communication, so all we have to do is have an antenna and a radio, and we can talk to anywhere in the world,” said Scott.

Amateur radio knows no distance.

There are two field days held every year for amateur radio clubs, one in the winter and another in the summer.