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Amateur Radio Field Day Readiness Exercise Modified Because of COVID-19

A ham radio setup. (Image from Wisconsin Public Radio)
A ham radio setup. (Image from Wisconsin Public Radio)

On the fourth weekend of June, ham radio clubs in the territory traditionally conduct annual Field Day emergency readiness exercises. Radio amateurs (hams) literally head to the field and install portable antennas and operate on emergency power to simulate a real emergency in order to be better prepared to serve when one arrives.

Field Day is also a club-oriented activity that serves as a venue to interact with the public and to demonstrate and explain the hobby.  Unfortunately, COVID-19 has changed this year’s plans.  In keeping with the governor’s social distancing mandate, this year’s field day will see many smaller, individual, socially responsible operations.

Not wanting to miss the opportunity to interact with the public, territory hams have arranged a virtual exercise to explain Field Day and the hobby to the public.  The “Virtual QSO” (a QSO is ham language for a radio contact) will be live streamed 6:30 p.m., Saturday, June 27, on the St. Thomas Amateur Radio Club Facebook page located at https://m.facebook.com/St-Thomas-Amateur-Radio-Club-110395697381229/.  The public is invited to join in the fun and learn more about field day and the exciting hobby.

There are almost 300 amateur radio licensees in the U.S. Virgin Islands and more than 760,000 in the U.S.A.  Field day is an annual event sponsored by American Relay Radio League (ARRL), which is the national association for amateur radio.  The ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) program and ham volunteers provide emergency communications during times of need — all for free.

“When disaster strikes, ham radio operators are often the first to provide critical information and communications,” said Fred Kleber, ARRL section manager.

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