Alachua County Fire Rescue participates in amateur radio field day to prepare for emergencies

This was the first time the Alachua County Fire Rescue participated in field day.
Published: Jun. 26, 2022 at 11:01 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Alachua County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) held its annual field day and this was the first time the Alachua County Fire Rescue participated with its equipment.

With the right frequencies, morse code, voice communication and data can save lives.

“If there are no phones, there’s no internet, everything that we’re used to on a daily basis doesn’t work, then how do you communicate that we need help,” said David Huckstep, volunteer for AERS.

Volunteers practiced setting up ham radios to showcase how efficiently they can communicate in severe emergencies. This year the Alachua County Fire Rescue joined these amateurs in testing out their Mutual Aid Radio Communications Unit (MARC).

“So we’re participating with our partners here, making sure that we can test our systems and prove the concept. And build the relationships, the relationship building is really key to our operation out here at field day,” said Kevin Rulapaugh, Alachua County District Fire Chief.

Ham radios work by using electromagnetic radiation, so when disaster strikes they can still operate.

“When the lights don’t work, there is no electricity, there is no phone, your cell phones will not work, your TVs are out and the public safety communications system is broken. During a hurricane, who do you call?” said Huckstep.

Well, that’s when the amateurs step in.

“Sometimes our systems are unable to accomplish the objective that we’re given, so we rely on the amateur radio community to be assistance…to be our backup,” said Rulapaugh.

These amateurs are always on call and they promise to stick by their motto of “failure is not an option.”

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