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Ham radio enthusiasts hold Amateur Radio Field Day events

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jun 27, 2022

Tom Provenzano makes contact at the Amateur Radio Field Day at the North Fort Myers Community Park on Saturday.

One of the great things about being a ham radio enthusiast is that about all you need is to have a love for the hobby and an occasional desire to serve the community in the event of an emergency.

That was demonstrated this past weekend at the North Fort Myers Community Park under the covered concession stand as numerous ham radio operators gathered for the second of two Amateur Radio Field Days.

This summer’s version had some added treats for people who came and visited, including a fire and rescue truck from Naples that brought its own 100-foot tower antenna to help bring in more operators from around the county.

John Wells, Fort Myers Amateur Radio Club spokesperson, said the event allowed radio operators to practice their skills in the event of an actual emergency and to show the public what amateur radio is about.

“We are practicing for emergencies and other activities away from our house. We come out with other operators and invite the public. We’ll be here for 24 hours,” Wells said.

Krhis Clock, engineer with Naples Fire & Rescue, brought a mutual aid communications trailer to bring in local emergency communications featuring a large antenna for Region 6 (much of Southwest Florida).

“We can utilize this to provide communications or augment their systems if they have a big event and need more radios,” Clock said. “In an emergency we would report to a requested area and deploy it. We can do it within a day.”

Field Day has taken place throughout the country since 1933, during the summer and winter, so operators can practice in the field if they ever become the primary source for communication during an emergency such as a hurricane.

More than 35,000 people from thousands of locations participate in Field Day each year. There are more than 775,000 licensed ham radio operators in the United States, operated by people of all ages and walks of life.

Technology has evolved, allowing everyone to take part.

Dan Blashill, a North Fort Myers resident, is visually impaired and needs some assistance to operate his radio via technology through things like voice commands and the computer reading out what he needs to know.

“All they need to know is the club call sign, the class and we’re from South Florida. It’s a quick exchange. There’s no time for conversation,” Blashill said. “I’m from Kansas City, so if I hear someone from Missouri, I may ask where, but pretty much, there’s no conversation.”