Ham radio operators drill for emergency

This past weekend, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) conducted a statewide emergency communications drill that simulated a massive storm with flooding. This gave amateur radio operators all over the state the opportunity to practice their emergency radio skills.

The communications test provides a public demonstration — to agencies such as the Red Cross, state and local emergency managers, and the news media — of the value that amateur radio provides. It helps radio amateurs gain communication experience using standard procedures and a variety of radio technologies, under simulated disaster-response conditions.

Amateur radio operators, known as hams, use equipment that continues to work even when all power and cell towers fail. Hams have a long history of setting up communications for stricken areas around the world until the commercial systems area restored.

Fairfield County is part of FEMA region 1 in Connecticut. The region 1 test was coordinated by Paul Lourd of Wilton, who has the call sign WB2JVB,  and is the district emergency coordinator.

During the test, amateur radios operators from Wilton, Fairfield, Stamford, Norwalk, Greenwich and Westport “checked in” over the radio and indicated if they were ready to deploy to assist local agencies if needed.

During the drill, Mr. Lourd, who was the “net control,” was able to stay in contact with all five Connecticut regions over the air without relying on the Internet or phone systems.

Those interested in amateur radio may visit arrl.org or the local radio club, gnarc.org.