NILES — Members of the Warren Amateur Radio Association participate in a 24-hour marathon to reach people across the United States and Canada as part of an annual event to practice what to do in the event of a real emergency.
Association members started the event at 2 p.m. Saturday at the cabin in Stevens Park and ends at 2 p.m. today. This is the annual Mid-Winter Amateur Relay League field day held across the United States and Canada.
The goal of the event is to connect with as many people as possible over a 24-hour period to hone the skills of radio amateurs, said association president Larry Oliver de Braceville.
“During periods of severe weather and other emergencies, we are able to communicate with people, so we hold 24-hour events twice a year for training,” he said. “We connect with other amateur radio operators.”
The association member reached California, Texas, Colorado and several parts of Canada less than an hour into the field day.
“It’s good that you can talk anywhere in the world immediately,” says Oliver. “I don’t need internet or phones.”
The local club has 52 members, adding eight in the past two years, with Oliver attributing the increase to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You can do it from home and continue to communicate”, he said. “If you’re locked in states, you can still talk to people.”
Association member Steve Ruman of Niles said he first became interested in amateur radio in 2002 and got his license a year later.
“Radios were originally designed for emergencies, but we use them all the time,” he said. “A lot of people at our club used them a lot because they were stuck inside” during the early days of the pandemic.
Warren’s Michael Chambora has been using amateur radios for three years.
“You make new friends from everywhere” he said. “It’s interesting and engaging.”
Most of the time, Chambora said he was on his ham radio for longer periods of time, but during the day in the field conversations were brief as club members received call signs from other people in the United States and Canada, he said.
The association’s call sign is W8VTD. It meets the first and third Tuesday of each month at the Warren SCOPE Center. The public is invited to attend.