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Ham radio operators to exercise emergency preparedness

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CENTREVILLE — A group of amateur radio operators returns to the Centreville area on June 27-28 to test their emergency preparedness and operating skills as part of the American Radio Relay League’s annual Field Day event.

Field Day is one of the most popular annual activities for amateur radio operators, also known as “hams.” The event regularly attracts individual and group participants operating from nearly every type of location imaginable—from public parks to remote mountaintops. Last year, more than 35,000 people participated in Field Day operations in across the U.S.

Using the callsign W3KDR, the Centreville group will attempt to contact as many other Field Day participants as possible in 24 hours using voice, Morse Code, digital communication, and special amateur radio satellites. All equipment will be powered by generators and batteries to test their reliability under emergency conditions.

Amateur radio has long offered a reliable means of communication in emergencies, which is why the hobby is recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a vital, volunteer contribution to preparedness. As this year’s Field Day takes place during the unprecedented circumstances of the nationwide COVID-19 outbreak, the W3KDR operators will take extra precautions to minimize the risk of spreading the virus throughout the operation. This experience that will enhance their readiness to participate in state and local emergency response operations that might arise while the virus remains prevalent.

Government and emergency services personnel across Maryland frequently look to the area’s amateur radio community for support following major weather events and other emergencies. In addition, area hams provide communications support for major events such as the annual Marine Corps Marathon, and facilitate contacts between school groups and the International Space Station.

Although emergency preparedness and public awareness are the hallmarks of Field Day, the event also fosters a spirit of friendly competition among its participants. The Centreville group has regularly finished among the top entrants both regionally and nationwide in the category of single transmitter, emergency power since they began operating Field Day from Queen Anne’s County in 1998.

For directions or more information, contact Kerry Kingham at 703-509-6968, or by email at WA4BQM@arrl.net. More information about amateur radio is available at www.arrl.org.

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