Ham radio event helps prepare radio operators

MORGAN CITY, La. -- Saturday and Sunday’s ham radio National Field Day proved helpful for Bayouland Emergency Radio Service in Morgan City, as the equipment test found issues that could have been a problem in the event of a hurricane.

The generator that is used to power the radio room would not start at first at the beginning of the field day event, Jackie Price, Bayouland Emergency Amateur Radio Service president, said.

The generator had not been run in the last few months, and would not start at first on Saturday due to water which had accumulated in the gas tank, Price said. After about two hours, members were able to fix the generator and run it for the rest of the 24-hour period, Price said.

The rotor that two of the radio antennae depend on to be able to function would not turn properly at first but they eventually got the rotor fixed as well, Price said.

The official radio room is located upstairs in the old bank building at the corner of First and Everett streets in Morgan City.

Bayouland has been participating in the National Field Day for about 20 years, Price said. Ham radio operators from across the U.S. and Canada participate annually, she said.

Price said she is glad they tested the equipment because if a hurricane had been coming through at the time, they would have been in a predicament.

The event allows ham radio operators to communicate with each other and serves as a preparedness exercise, training exercise, and a contest.

“That’s the real purpose of field day is to test the equipment that you have and to make sure it’s operational,” Price said.

Bayouland provides the public service to be able to contact people during an emergency when no other means of communication is available. During a storm or emergency, Bayouland normally has six people in the radio room to help make contact with people inside and outside the community, Price said.

Bayouland also had two newly licensed members who practiced making contacts with other radio stations for the first time, Price said. The field day is a “great training tool” for operators, she said.

Bayouland made contact with 615 other radio operators across the country during the 24-hour period, Price said. Bayouland competed against other ham radio operators across the country to see how many contacts it could make with other stations. The results of the contest will be released probably in January, Price said.

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