Why perform public service?
One of the reasons that the FCC established the amateur radio service was for the “[r]ecognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary non-commercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.” The use of ham radio for communications during truly emergent conditions, such as floods and tornadoes, is one of the key services that CVARC provides. However, public service extends well beyond the more occasional emergency situation. CVARC members, like many other hams, volunteer their time and equipment to help with communication during public events, like races and parades, as a way to serve the community. By working with the event organizers, hams can get a message through from one end of an event to the other, helping the organizers stay on top of things. Every ham, regardless of experience has the opportunity to participate and hone their skills at these events. The biggest perceived barrier to event participation is not having the right equipment. However, for CVARC members, this is not a barrier at all. Loaner radios of various types are available during these events. Public service events are a great way to learn and gain experience with your radios and equipment. The events are usually low key and fun. When the big emergency happens at 3 AM some Wednesday, you’ll be glad you worked the bugs out during a noon weekend 5k Fun Walk. The free t-shirts aren’t bad either.
What events does CVARC cover?
Everything! Examples include:
- Marathons (full and half, and sometimes simultaneously)
- Smaller runs or fundraising walks
- Emergency Management Agency drills (primarily pertaining to our local nuclear power plant)
- Triathlons (typically two per year)
- Holiday events with city officials
This list is not exhaustive. Over the years, we’ve been asked to help with many different things.
Are these events challenging?
Some of them are remarkably so! The marathons, for example, are large events, and the planning takes months and involves police, fire, ambulance, many volunteer groups, and local city departments. But even at a marathon, there are tasks that do not require a lot of experience! And if you are new, we can assign you to work with an experienced partner.
Other events are very simple, and anyone can work them, even without a mentor. We can use all skill levels.
How do I know what to do?
Every event includes a briefing, and materials sent out prior. Those are generally sufficient. CVARC supports ARES in Linn County, and the ARES website has many excellent materials and advice. Click HERE to check them out. You might pay special attention to the list of commonly used frequencies.