BARS members James Moorehead (call sign WF4AC), Arthur Lusk (KI4SGM) and Fred Hendershot (N3BUL) logging contacts made on-air.

By Sean Crumpacker

What would happen if the world lost access to telephone communications and the internet? In times of natural disaster, the fear of communication blackouts can become a reality, making it imperative to have other means of communication. Thankfully, one local group can offer a solution: the Brandon Amateur Radio Society.

On June 22 and 23, the Brandon Amateur Radio Society (BARS) hosted an Amateur Radio ‘Field Day’ as part of a national exercise supported by the National Association for Amateur Radio (ARRL) to educate people about the usage and importance of ham radios. The event was hosted at Davis Park, located at 612 N. Parsons Ave. in Brandon.

The national field day is always hosted on the fourth full weekend of June. More than 40,000 “hams” (amateur radio hobbyists) help set up the national field day each year, including those among the Brandon Amateur Radio Society. Temporary transmission stations are set up to demonstrate the science and skill behind amateur radio as well as to educate the general public about the real-world usefulness of an underrated hobby.

Hams were on-site educating visitors about the radio setups they were using. Computers logged the data of all the areas in and around the U.S. they were able to make contact with for the duration of the event—nearly every region of the U.S. over a 24-hour period, including Alaska, Hawaii and most of Canada, which demonstrates the true power of ham radio.

“Internet and power are always on and always available, however, we’ve seen quite a few examples of bad weather and natural disasters…that cause that infrastructure to be unavailable. Ham radio has always demonstrated that when all else fails, ham radio is always able to get the message out,” Scott Irwin, president of BARS, stated.

Amateur radio is a vital skill, he explained, because of its reliability and ability to relay information when primary communication networks go down. They can be used to communicate with first responders and even other regions of the US to relay information.

The Brandon Amateur Radio Society has been serving the Brandon, Riverview and East Tampa areas for more than 40 years to provide emergency communications, license classes and operator training programs.

For more information or to schedule, please visit the website at www.brandonhamradio.org.