COPPERAS COVE — Gary Young fiddled with a radio dial, waiting to get a signal from other amateur radio operators across the nation.
About 10 minutes later, Young heard an operator in Indiana through the static.
The exercise was part of a field day Saturday, where amateur radio operators gathered in the community room of the Copperas Cove Police Department to make contact with operators throughout the country and Canada.
“Once a year, the amateur radio community, also known as HAM radio operators, do a preparedness exercise called field day,” said Young, emergency management coordinator for the city. “The purpose of it is for (volunteer) radio operators ... to set up their radio equipment and operate in an environment that simulates a disaster.”
The operators worked throughout the night, trying to make radio contact with other operators across North America.
“By the time we leave, we will have around 30 or 40 contacts,” said Priscilla Beauregard, who has been a amateur radio operator for about five years.
In natural disaster situations, like a hurricane, Beauregard said radios come in handy since they are operated on emergency generators, unlike cellphones, which rely on towers.
“If we have a tornado and everything is wiped out, HAM radio is the only way you’ll have connection (with other people),” she said.
During the event, Young said residents also were educated on the importance of having a plan of action in case of a disaster.
“Citizens should be proactive and prepare for disaster before it strikes,” Young said. “For each person who has an emergency kit, that’s one less person emergency management responders have to worry about.”