ASHLAND, Ore.– It’s said you can never be too prepared and for a certain group of individuals in southern Oregon that saying holds true. Amateur radio users gathered in Ashland on Saturday to run drills and show community members how they might be the best form of contact in an case of an emergency.
As the 83rd Amateur Radio Field Day, three groups came together to test themselves and inform the public. Made up members from the Cascade Amateur Radio Enthusiasts, the Rogue Valley Amateur Radio Club and the Jackson County Amateur Radio Emergency Services, members reached out to other “ham radio” user across the country.
While many of the sounds are reminiscent of the earliest Star Wars movies, some compare the actual work of amateur radio to fishing.
Conducted almost every year by groups across the country, this field day is meant as a way for amateur radio users to test their capabilities for the off chance they’ll have to use them in an emergency.
“Anything you can do to create power to run your radio from we do it in this scenario,” said Curt Hadley, public information officer for the Cascade group. “So that if we don’t have generated power off the grid, we’re still able to operate.”
While it’s origins were based in Morse code, the technology has been modernized to allow for faster and more functional connections.
“We can take a computer, hook it up to a radio and talk to another computer over radio waves,” said Hadley.
Throughout the day, new and older members made contact with people across the country. For one new member, he made contact with someone from West Virginia.
“I was very excited, very excited like my hands were shaking,” said William Morgan.
As someone who wants to be prepared for any emergencies, it’s become a passion for him like so many of the others at the field day.
“Anybody can with a little bit of dedication,” said Morgan. “The sky, literally, the earth’s atmosphere is the limit. Bounce radio waves all across the ocean.”
While there are no immediate threats, possible disasters like the Cascadia Subduction Zone are what these members are preparing for. So, when the time comes and the possibility of all cell and internet connection goes down, amateur radio users will be the ones that could contact larger cities for help or instruction.
Of course, while they allow people to go off the grid, every user has to be licensed with the FCC. At the field day, members offered information about becoming licensed and what classes to take to learn more.
If you are interested in becoming a licensed amateur radio user, you can find out more at the Cascade Amateur Radio Enthusiasts website.
The group will be out at the open field at ScienceWorks until 11 a.m. Sunday.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.