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Lexington amateur radio operators take part in Field Day

(WKYT)
Published: Jun. 24, 2018 at 1:50 PM EDT
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We all use our smartphones and the internet to communicate with others every day, but have you have you ever thought about what happens when those towers go down and there is no way to call for help?

Over this weekend, amature radio opporators, also known as ham radio operators, from across the country participated in the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Field Day, which practices communication methods when cell towers and the internet are not available.

"The goal is to try to hit as many grid squares, locations, states, counties, all across the county", explains Bart Breeding, a ham radio operator in Lexington.

During this year's event, the Lexington group set up in Veterans Park. To make communications, licenced ham radio operators used specialized radios and antenna to reach other people across the country, but there's a twist. They were communicating completely off the grid without relying on smartphones, internet, or standard power.

Breeding says, "All the operators provide their own equipment, we set up antennas. Everything is portable, nothing is run off of standard electric, run off of generators."

By only using power from either generators or even solar panels, these ham radio operators are able to communicate with their radios through specific wavelengths all across the country. This comes in handy whenever natural disasters strike and state, government, or emergency officials are unable to communicate.

"It doesn't have to be anything more than maybe messages that people are safe, but for the state and local officials where they can't get telephones because cell phones may be down we can communicate and pass this information along to various officials", states Breeding.

While these types of operations aren't used very much here in Kentucky, Breeding says members of their club have traveled with the Red Cross to the gulf coast to aid in hurricane disaster communications.