The Norman Transcript

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June 25, 2012

Local amateur radio enthusiasts practice their emergency response

NORMAN — Throughout the U.S. and Canada, ham radio enthusiasts spent 24 hours over the weekend practicing for emergency situations like Norman’s April 13 tornado.

Norman’s South Canadian Amateur Radio Society was just one of the many groups who participated in the annual Field Day, coordinated by the American Radio Relay League.

Society President Bill Lockett, of Norman, said members of his group were in their element from 1 p.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday, broadcasting and receiving messages from a tent in Reaves Park.

“We go out of our normal radio shacks, generally in our homes, and we go into the field,” he said. “We work on generator power, we set up field antennas — wire antennas or short towers with beams on them — and then we make contacts with other people throughout the United States and Canada.”

The group practices not just because it’s fun, but also because they’ve got to be ready to assist the city’s emergency responders.

“In any severe weather, we have our spotters,” Lockett said. “We coordinate with the emergency managers and the emergency operations centers, both with Norman and with Moore. We provide communications and volunteers.”

The event makes for good practice, as participants try to make as many contacts as they can across a jammed radio spectrum of other operators trying to communicate.

Despite an overloaded spectrum, members of the local society made contacts in Hawaii, and perhaps in Australia, though Lockett couldn’t say for sure.

The group invites people of all ages to join them at their next meeting at 9:30 a.m. on July 14.

The South Canadian Amateur Radio Society meets at Norman’s Fire Station No. 7. For more information on the society, visit www.w5nor.org.

Joel Pruett 366-3540 jpruett@normantranscript.com

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