Five Local amateur radio operators, commonly referred to as hams, gathered at the Pioche Volunteer Fire Station on Airport Road in Pioche on June 24 and 25 to participate in an event. The event allows operators to practice and develop their skills in preparation for possible emergency situations that may arise requiring alternate forms of communications to move information into and out of the county.
The local hams are members of Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES). The Amateur Radio Emergency Service? (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment, with their local ARES leadership, for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. ARES operations move emergency and welfare traffic for agencies such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Public Works and private citizens when normal modes of communication are unavailable.
RACES stands for ?Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service,? a protocol created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission. Many government agencies across the country train their Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) volunteers using the RACES protocol. The volunteers serve their respective jurisdictions pursuant to guidelines and mandates established by local emergency management officials. Local RACES operations move emergency traffic for local agencies such as the Sheriffs Office, Fire Departments, and Emergency Management, etc.
Every June, more than 40,000 hams throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate ham radio?s science, skill and service to our communities and our nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933, and remains the most popular event in ham radio. The goal of Field Day is to work as many stations as possible on amateur radio bands and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions.
During the event, the local hams were able to demonstrate and explain amateur radio communications equipment and practices to elected and appointed public officials, emergency services department heads and the public.
Contact was made with 276 separate and unique stations in 38 US states including Hawaii, three Canadian Provinces, Guam and Brazil. 231 of the contacts were voice contacts via Single Side Band, and 45 of the contacts were made utilizing PSK31 digital mode via a radio that was interconnected with a computer. Additionally, while not included in the official score for the event, six images were received via Slow Scan Television transmission at the event.
The Pioche Fire Station was selected as this years Field Day site due to its designation as the alternate Emergency Operations Center for the County in the event of a disaster or major emergency. Lincoln County ARES/RACES, the Pioche Fire Department, Lincoln County Sheriffs Office and the Nevada Amateur Radio Repeaters Inc., have entered into a cooperative effort to provide a local repeater on Treasure Hill that is interconnected to the internet using Voice Over the Internet Protocol (VOIP) through both the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) and Echolink. This repeater allows local radio operators to connect world wide with other radios and repeaters on the systems as long as the telephone and internet infrastructure remains in tact and usable.
Recent events such as the flooding and detour of Interstate 15 traffic through Lincoln County proved that this is not always the case. In the event of a communication breakdown ARES/RACES is able to talk to the world directly via High Frequency (HF) Radio. To that end Lincoln County ARES/RACES, Lincoln County Emergency Management and the Pioche Volunteer Fire Department have worked to put up several antennas, and install some basic equipment at the Pioche Fire Station on Airport Road to allow hams to rapidly connect HF radios, computers, and other communication equipment to get on the air and begin moving emergency traffic to Local, State and National emergency response agencies and resources.
Lincoln County ARES and the local radio club known as the Great Basin Amateur Radio Club are planning to provide training classes and host FCC lisencing tests for those interested in becoming Amateur Radio Operators in Lincoln County. Anyone interested can contact Chuck Reifsnyder or Lee Hone in Pioche, or John Thompson in Caliente.