Various agencies came together at the Civic Center on Saturday to deal with a mock disaster.
The 24-hour mock disaster simulation was held during the annual Winter Field Day event. The theme of the day was public education and awareness, disaster preparedness, crime prevention and amateur radio.
“The goal of this event was to simulate a communication failure that required amateur radio operators to set up and maintain a communications system for 24 hours,” said Gary Young, Cove deputy fire chief and emergency management coordinator. “Many people are not aware of the steps to take during a disaster.” The event allows people to take part in the simulation, gain important information and become a part of the process.
“This event is designed to encourage emergency operating preparedness in the winter,” said Young.
Participants in the Winter Field Day included Copperas Cove Division of Emergency Management, the Copperas Cove Police and Fire Departments, the Cove Repeater Association (Amateur Radio Club), the Texas Department of State Health Services, Central Texas Trauma Council and Coryell County Emergency Management.
Priscilla Beauregard, emergency management volunteer, was excited to educate the public on the value and importance of being prepared. “Panic is the enemy during a disaster. Hopefully people will leave with a better understanding of what to do if such a disaster occurs.”
“When the city is shut down and communication is not possible, knowing what to do to keep your family safe is crucial,” said retired amateur radio operator Jim Hanson “I educate people on creating simple antennas to transmit and receive radio waves. It’s easier than one thinks. Hams can literally throw a wire in a tree, connect it to a battery-powered transmitter and communicate halfway around the world.”
Texas A&M University Forest Service was also in attendance, educating attendees on the importance of mitigating fire damage.
Clayton Cole, resource specialist, expressed his concern with the public’s lack of knowledge in safeguarding their properties. “It important that people understand perimeter boundaries and the value of keeping the home free of debris that can cause fire,” Cole said.
The radio operators were busy connecting with other amateur operators around the world, this being an event that occurred worldwide. “This is an exciting event and the competition to contact the most operators has the room in a buzz. The prize: bragging rights,” Young said..
“Amateur radio or ham radio is an essential tool during a disaster,” said Bill Baker, ham operator. “When communication is down, ham radio provides essential radio links.”
Ham radio has been used for 100 years, connecting individuals from all walks of life, educating them about electronics and communication techniques.
During the Winter Field Day, it was easy to see ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent communication network.
The event also encouraged individuals to get licensed and become active ham operators.