Amateur radio club participates in weekend-long communications exercise

Practising for an emergency

An old homesteader building in the Knutsford area was transformed into a communications hub this weekend as the Kamloops Amateur Radio Club held its annual Winter Field Day event.

The event was held Saturday and Sunday as 10 amateur radio operators from around the region met up for the weekend. Participants slept, ate and communicated over the air from inside a small cabin and in neighbouring tents.

“It's both a contest and a simulated emergency. So it's just to check and see our abilities to respond during a disaster event or some other public service event,” said Myles Bruns, president of the Kamloops Amateur Radio Club.

“It’s a bit of practice. Plus, it’s fun. We get a bunch of people come out, we cook food and enjoy each other’s company.”

The contest portion of the event sees participants earning points by setting up a field station and establishing contacts with other radio operators.

“There's people like one of our members, Jim for example, who's very keen on contesting and his goal is to contact, over a 24 hour period, as many people around the world as he can. And those are normally short exchanges of information,” said Bruns.

“And then there's people like myself, for example, who do public service volunteering, and we're more interested in sending a message, say to the TNRD, for example.

"So if we were doing a simulated emergency like this, we might send a list of supplies that are needed in a response area or list of evacuees or something like that.”

Bruns said that the club had made contact with just under 200 stations around the world in under 24 hours. The furthest station was in Hawaii and the closest was in Kamloops.

The club also offers their services to local governments and regional districts in case of emergencies.

“So with the TNRD, for example, we're talking to them about how we might be able to help them out when they're dealing with evacuation orders or evacuation alerts and how we might be able to help get the message out to people so that they're aware of what's happening in their community," Bruns said.

“Practice is really important to be able to do it under real world conditions, and be able to be prepared for what you run into.”

Bruns said that the club has a diverse number of members whose ages range from 23 to 94 years old.

“It's a super diverse hobby, so I think that's why it has such a diverse group of people involved, because there's something different for everybody. And you all share the same enthusiasm about electronics and radio. And again, as I say, we have people that are really passionate about public service, that's all they do,” said Bruns.

“The hobby includes anybody. So it’s really nice. That way, you get to have a real diversity of participation.”

The club holds a monthly meeting, with an upcoming meeting slated for 7 p.m. on Feb. 2 at 210 Victoria St.

Bruns said anyone interested in learning more about amateur radio can check out the Kamloops Amateur Radio Club's website.

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