Disasters that disrupt communications and daily life and have historically involved the response of amateur radio operators – whether it is hurricanes, earthquakes or forest fires. ‘Hams’ have stepped up to provide assistance when other forms of communication fail.
Here in Sun City Hilton Head the response to social distancing has been to close the indoor amenities, shutting down many clubs. This did not hold back the Sun City Hilton Head Amateur Radio club (SCHHARC). They just moved their meetings ‘on-the-air’ facilitated by the Internet and Skype to facilitate presentations…
History of Amateur Radio Emergency Response
Ham radio dates back to the 1890s. It wasn’t until the Radio Act of 1912 was passed, that federal licensing to ham radio stations took place. Ham radio stations in the United States are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In 1935, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) was established by the American Radio Relay League to help assist the public in the event of a disaster. In addition, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) was established in 1952, serving as a civil defense radio service that activates in emergencies. Following Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) protocols, ham radio operators have authorization to transmit during emergencies after the president invokes these powers.
History of the SCHHARC support
Our club was one of the charter clubs within Sun City Hilton Head. This club works with local fire and emergency response personnel to test and maintain their radio systems. They’ve installed systems in all the Beaufort County fire stations, additionally both Beaufort and Jasper counties have ham radio installations associated with their emergency response centers. We work with them to ensure that this radios are working and that they can communicate between the facilities on a regular basis.
Where you can learn more about SCHHARC
This club regularly holds nets on Sunday and Wednesday nights each week, as well as monthly member meetings. We also participate in the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) field day once a year on the 4th full weekend of June. For field day, we normally set up in Pickney hall and operate for a few hours on that Saturday, using emergency power and antennas — testing our emergency preparedness.
We also plan to participate in the Sun City Open House related to the 25th anniversary. We’ll likely set up by the fountains near the tennis courts.