- Written by Brian Keahl
- Category: Emergency Communications
- Published: 08 May 2015
- Hits: 1315
Field Day is viewed by some operators as a fun weekend of contesting, some as an educational event, some as an opportunity to practice their operating skills, and by others as a weekend of insanity.
It is all of those things, and one more, an opportunity to test our EMCOMM skills. Just as in an emergency, Field day tests our ability to setup, troubleshoot, and operate radio equipment in a remote location in a short period of time. The short setup and operating windows, remote location, and long hours add stress and fatigue to the mix, approximating emergency operations pretty well. Of course, the bigger your team the easier it is, educating us on the value of having as many participants as possible.
ARRL defines the objective of field day as follows: To work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands (excluding the 60, 30, 17, and 12-meter bands) and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions. Field Day is open to all amateurs in the areas covered by the ARRL/RAC Field Organizations and countries within IARU Region 2.
The event takes place on the last full weekend of June from 1800UTC Saturday (2PM local) until 2059UTC Sunday (5:59PM), with some limited setup allowed on Friday.
Unlike an actual emergency deployment, this event is scheduled, allowing for planning prior to the event. Even with a plan, Field Day will be filled with unexpected challenges, but a plan helps keep things on track in spite of them. This is another lesson for EMCOMM, how planning ahead of time helps to keep an emergency response on track in spite of unanticipated problems.
An important part of planning is manpower. While Saturday afternoon and evening are often filled with volunteers, late night Saturday and early Sunday can be a bit more difficult to fully man. Good planning, and a little luck, can maximize your manpower by scheduling resources whenever possible. Again, another lesson for Emergency Communications planning.
While the experience of setting up the antennas and radios and troubleshooting the inevitable problems, scheduling operators, interacting the press, operating a GOTA station, and actually operating is educational, the real reason to do it is because it's a bit of a challenge and a heck of a lot of fun!