For a period of 24 continuous hours Saturday, at Lenn Park, the community of Culpeper will witness a group of unsung heroes in action.
Members of the Culpeper Amateur Radio Association will be in full operating form by making as many contacts as they can to commemorate Field Day.
The public will have a rare opportunity to join the Culpeper operators, as an operating station will be specifically set up for non-licensed members of the public to give amateur radio a try. The public is invited to participate at the “Get on the Air” stations. There will be a licensed operator for everyone who participates.
During the month of June, over 40,000 ham operators throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public areas to showcase the science of ham radio. President of the Culpeper Amateur Radio Association Gary Foveaux and his team of operators will not be connected to regular commercial power. They plan to camp out with a full system of antennas, generators, and batteries, and solar power with the focus of communication throughout the country. The CARA crew realizes the importance of their role in making emergency contact.
“If there is a hurricane in the area and it knocks out communications, such as cell phones, etc., ham radio can go in and provide communications for hospitals, fire & rescue, police, and the government,” Foveaux said. “During this period, we can communicate back to the emergency control center in Richmond.”
Although the purpose of Field Day is to educate and provide training for emergency services, operators will compete for points and ratings.
Under emergency conditions, during a natural or man-made disaster, the role of an amateur radio operator is priceless. Without commercial power to sustain their equipment, their community would be left vulnerable.
CARA is currently composed of 47 operators, who have the equipment necessary to go into action at a moment’s notice.
“We talk locally, and monitor what we call repeater,” Foveaux said. “It covers a 100-mile radius. We also practice on Sunday nights — what we call an emergency net.”
Dedicated to the service of helping his fellow man through communication, Foveaux participates in 13 public service events a year. CARA’s most recent venture was at Grace Mountain, during a bicycle ride. Also, CARA assisted in the running of the Marine Corps Half Marathon, where he and 30 other ham operators provided communications.
“We provide a service, but also provides training, and helps us learn to keep our equipment up, and how to use it. If something happens, we’re ready,” Foveaux said.