On Saturday, June 22 & 23rd, members of the Prescott-Russell Amateur Radio Club rolled up their sleeves and put their shoulders to the task in erecting a 50-foot communications tower near the large gazebo in Confederation Park in Hawkesbury for the annual Field Day (2019) emergency radio communications exercise. The tower held several antennas designed to operate on different shortwave radio bands to contact hundreds of other Amateur Radio stations throughout North America. Their two impromptu radio stations operated on emergency power, which included the use of VHF for local communications.
Field Day is the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in Canada and the United States. More than 35,000 Radio Amateurs gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from remote locations.
The Amateur Radio Field Day annual exercise was conceived shortly after WWII and continued in earnest during the Cold War era. The reason for this was and is in case a lasting communications emergency would take place. This can occur either by a natural disaster; like an earthquake – tornado – large forest fires, or a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun, and each have the potential of wiping out localized and or large areas of the power grid.
It can also be a manmade disaster as in an event of a (declared or undeclared) war; like a successful CYBER attack that damages or takes out the power grid, or an attack implementing an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) weapon. Governments are often reminded of the real threats that can take down the power grid & shut down the Internet, where most daily communications takes place. Remember blackout 2004? It took everyone by surprise on how large a scale of the grid had fallen so quickly and affected communications. Cell phone towers have a limited capacity at any one time, and are dependent on Bell Canada’s fiber optics infrastructure for people to communicate from cell tower – to cell tower to the dialed number, and this is also vulnerable. Do all cell towers have back up power – and for how long? These are questions needing answers to.
While some will treat their local Field Day event as a contest, other groups use the opportunity to practise their emergency response capabilities. It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Amateur Radio to municipal emergency management officials that Amateur Radio might serve in an emergency, as well as a ‘show & tell’ to the general public. For many clubs, Field Day is one of the highlights of their annual calendar
The radio club event logged 33 visitors in all; many were visiting Radio Amateurs, of these some were staff workers, but others were not – like Champlain Township Mayor Normand Riopel, a journalist from The Review, and a UCPR emergency management official.
Several Radio Amateurs indicated that this was perhaps the best Field Day exercise they have ever experienced. It was a lot of hard work, proud of what they achieved and fun to do – with much camaraderie.
The radio club wishes to thank its sponsors – the City of Hawkesbury, IGS Hawkesbury, Tulmar Safety Systems and Solar Tech Canada – for their valued support.
Michael Hickey, VE3IPC
Prescott-Russell Amateur Radio Club Inc. (PR-ARC)
For more information about the Amateur Radio Service please visit:
Radio Amateurs of Canada: https://wp.rac.ca
Prescott Russell Amateur Radio Club: Facebook – Prescott Russell Amateur Radio Club Inc. Website: < https://prarc.ca > Email < [email protected] > Phone < 613-518-2173 >