Media Archive

Piscataquis Amateur Radio takes part in emergency communications test

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 27, July 02, 2003

Contributed Photo
RADIO RELAY Ray Roberts of Harmony, a member of the Milo-based Piscataquis Amateur Radio Club, mans a radio station during a 24-hour relay last weekend.

MILO Piscataquis Amateur Radio Club members worked around the clock from 2 p.m. Saturday until 2 p.m. Sunday last weekend as part of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Annual Field Day. This year, PARC was set up at its club station at the Piscataquis County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Milo, under a first ever category which encourages operation at EOCs around the US and Canada. FD classes are grouped according to the number of transmitters, the location of the operation and source of power

According to PARC President George Dean of Brownville Junction, Field Day is the annual "shakedown run" for the ARRL's National Field Organization. The idea is to get a simulated emergency communications, self sufficient operation up and running quickly and prepared to meet the needs of local and county officials to augment civil communications. To make the test interesting and competitive the ARRL publishes entries in its national magazine QST. Stations get bragging rights according to the number of contacts they make over the 24 hour period.

"Field Day is a way for hams to get on the air under some difficult conditions, and a chance to fine-tune emergency communication skills," Dean says. "This exercise demonstrate amateur radio's ability to support local, state and national needs during civil emergencies." Civil emergencies could be anything from floods and hurricanes to ice storms or forest fires. When fire, rescue and police communications are taxed beyond there limits, organizations such as PARC mobilize under either Radio Amateur Communications Service (RACES) or Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). RACES is activated by a civil authority such as the Piscataquis Emergency Management Agency where ARES is can be activated by any Licensed ham operator. The ARRL estimates that more than 35,000 hams participate in Field Day every year. This is also the League's largest event of the year.

For the last couple of months the club has spent several hundred dollars and numerous hours installing new antennas and transmission lines at the EOC to improve communication capability. Under the direction of Station Manager Paul Kelley of Milo and assisted by professional antenna/tower rigger Clarence Ryder of Exeter and fellow hams PARC Secretary Dr. Ben Kittridge of Milo and Vice President Terry Knowles of Brownville Junction installed rigging at the 90 foot level of the three 100 foot towers at the EOC site.

Participants in this year's Field Day activities included George Dean, PARC President; Terry Knowles, Vice President; Margaret William, Treasurer; and Harry and Bea Hilton all of Brownville Junction; Dr. Ben Kittredge, Secretary, and Caroline Kelley both of Milo; Priscilla and Gary Clark of Howland; Dan Newcome of Sebec; Howard Weymouth of Abbot; Carol Richards of Bradford; Ray Roberts of Harmony and EMA Director Bob Wilson of Monson.

Officials present during the event included the Piscataquis EMA Director and ARRL Emergency Coordinator, Bob Wilson; ARRL New England Assistant Director Mike Raisbeck; ARRL Maine Section Manager Bill Woodhead. Raisbeck and Woodhead showed club members Governor John Baldaccfs original Proclamation which designates the week of June 23 to 29, 2003 as Amateur Radio Week in Maine.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.