Local radio club to participate in national emergency test

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 7, 2015

Saturday, the Pearl River County Amateur Radio Club will participate in a national Simulated Emergency Test.
According to a Mississippi American Radio Relay League release, a SET is an exercise in disaster response and emergency communications. Volunteer communicators will respond to a mock emergency or disaster. Participating groups include the Amateur Radio Emergency Services, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, the National Traffic System, SKYWARN and others.
“The primary function of this event is to make sure we are able to use our equipment and what measures are in place,” PRC Amateur Radio Club’s Public Information Officer Clifford Mitchell said. “It gives our operations a chance to work with state, city and county emergency operations and find out if there are any weaknesses within the system.”
Members of the PRC Amateur Radio Club are also known as “Ham radio” operators. According to the release, these operators provide critical communications to rescuers and emergency personnel during emergencies across the country, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms, wildfires, earthquakes and terrorist attacks. Ham operators can send messages in a variety of forms without the use of phone systems or Internet, the release states.
“The easiest is Morse Code,” he said. “The clicks are much clearer and can be picked up further away and easier to understand in noisy conditions. Operators can also send emails through the system and contact satellites.”
Mitchell said local ham operators do anything the state and local government requires of them, which can include operating their radios from their residence or at the EOC facility in Poplarville. They also provide assistance with routine traffic and relaying information about the status of residents during an emergency.
“The quickest way to turn a crisis into a major disaster is to lose communications,” Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator for Mississippi ARES Rez Johnson said in the release. “From Katrina in Mississippi to the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan to tornado outbreaks in Missouri, Amateur Radio has provided the most reliable communication networks during the first critical hours of these events. Because Amateur radios are not dependent on the Internet, cell towers or other infrastructure, they work when nothing else is available. Amateur radio operators have no weak links in their communication networks because the only thing they need between their radios is air.”
Mitchell said their group aims to attract younger members. There are currently 39 registered volunteers in the PRC Amateur Radio Club.
The club meets the first Tuesday of every month with locations rotating between the Poplarville EOC building and Fire Station #1 in Picayune. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the meeting lasts from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
For more information about the club, contact club president Shawn Wise at 601-255-3867, club treasurer Roger Aubert at 601-795-4425, Mitchell at 601-889-9727 and through Facebook at Pearl River County Amateur Radio Club.

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