Letter: Amateur radio group seeking members
For some time, a small group has been trying to form an emergency communications group using the various radio services allowed by the Federal Communications Commission.
Amateur radio is the primary focus since amateurs can talk around the world, depending on the mode of radio used and radio wave propagation. Citizens Band radio, however, is very useful and has been used successfully in emergency communications since its inception. The Family Radio service and Multi-Use Radio service are good for short range emergency communications such as search-and-rescue.
We also provide emergency communications for events in Flagstaff, Williams and the surrounding area such as the upcoming Lions Club Route 66 Mountain Man 10/5K and Fun Run.
When I talk to people about emergency communications, they usually say they will just get on their cell phone and call for help. Not only do cell phones not operate in some areas, on February 15, 2015 you would not have been able to use your cell phone, landline or Internet, for that matter. That is when a cut fiber optic cable in Phoenix knocked out phone and Internet service to all of Northern Arizona.
This incident is the reason I took the time to study and get my amateur radio license. I was not able to get it until October because I had to figure out all of the information myself. The Coconino Amateur Radio Club in Flagstaff was helpful. I got a GMRS license in September, which was easy. (Yes you do need a license to operate on the GMRS channels of those radios you bought at Walmart despite what you may have read on the Internet).
Fortunately you do not have to wander aimlessly. You can simply come to our meetings and we can answer your questions and get you ready for the amateur exam if that is what you want. We hope to have classes and an exam in September here in Williams. The only caveat is that you cannot have a felony.
If you are interested in finding out more, we invite you to attend our meetings every second Friday at 6 p.m., currently at the Wild West Junction breakfast room thanks to Mayor John Moore. If you see us at an event, you can stop by after the event is over to ask us questions.
Incidentally, if you are interested in more detailed disaster preparedness and assisting your community, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) meets every second Monday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at the Williams Fire Station #2 by the Rodeo grounds.
You can also see us on Facebook under Williams Emergency Communications Group.
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