Amateur radio operators test equipment during annual Field Day

Amateur radio testing

WESTLAKE, LA (KPLC) - Many people might know HAM radios- or amateur radios- as one of the oldest forms of communication.

"It's the earliest form of communication and we're still using it" said Vice President of the GARS Radio Club in Lake Charles, Don Davant.  "When everything else fails all your modern communication of Internet and cell phones are shut down, we still have the capabilities to still individually carrying on" he said.

Not to be confused with police or CB radios, HAM radios can reach long distances, providing operators the chance to communicate with people internationally.

"It's a fun activity.  "You can meet lots and lots of folks all over the world" said Veteran HAM operator, George Carr.   "I've talked to Antarctica, I've talked to the Space Station... I've talked to Iraq a week or so ago" he added.

But it's not all fun and games all of the time.  HAM operators, like the ones that work out of the GARS amateur radio club in Lake Charles, realize their responsibility to the public as well.

"It's entertainment for us but it's service also" said Lucky Young, Veteran HAM operator.  "We are a service organization" he said.

Young has been a HAM operator for decades, but remembers his experience during hurricane Rita the most.

"There were eight of us who worked around the clock the whole period" he remembers.  "The armed forces and the police moved up to Dequincy and places like that and we stayed here and passed traffic for people around here" said Young.

That commitment to service is what keeps the operators going and is why they test their worldwide emergency equipment once a year during a field day.  During the testing, radio operators try to connect with as many stations in the United States and Canada using these radio systems.

"We make as many contacts as we can" said Davant.  "We have a 24-hour period... We have three stations running and we're making contact out of all the equipment" said Davant.

Over the 24-hour period more than 70 Lake area operators are expected to come test equipment and get their chance to communicate with other operators around country.  Contact is simple, with call letters being read and operators confirming they've received the call.  Then, it's on to the next one.

"We make sure we have all the communication to go through and so when we need it, it's there".

Operators will wrap up their annual testing field day Sunday at around 1 PM.

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