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11:41 AM Sun, Feb. 17th
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Public invited to ham radio demonstration this weekend

PRESCOTT - Local "hams" will join thousands of amateur radio operators Saturday and Sunday in showing off their emergency capabilities.

The Yavapai Amateur Radio Club and Yavapai County ARES/RACES will be demonstrating amateur radio at the Heritage Park Hilltop Ramada overlooking Willow Lake in Prescott.

They invite the public to come and see ham radio's new capabilities and learn how to get their own FCC radio license. Ham radio skills can help in the event of a disaster, among other things.

When trouble is brewing, amateur radio operators often are the first to provide rescuers with critical information and communications.

Over the past year, ham radio operators have provided critical communications during unexpected emergencies in towns across America including the California wildfires, winter storms, tornadoes and other events worldwide.

During Hurricane Katrina, ham radio often was the only way people could communicate, and hundreds of volunteer "hams" traveled south to save lives and property.

Showing the newest digital and satellite capabilities, voice communications and even historical Morse code, hams from across the county will conduct free public demonstrations of emergency communications abilities this weekend.

Called "Field Day," this annual event is the climax of the weeklong Amateur Radio Week sponsored by the ARRL, the national association for amateur radio.

Using only emergency power supplies, ham operators will build emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and backyards around the country.

Their slogan, "When All Else Fails, Ham Radio Works," is more than just words to the hams as they prove they can send messages in many forms without the use of phone systems, Internet or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis.

More than 30,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year's event.

"We hope that people will come and see for themselves that this is not your grandfather's radio anymore," said Allen Pitts, W1AGP, of the ARRL. "The communications that ham radio people can quickly create have saved many lives when other systems failed or were overloaded. And besides that - it's fun!"

More than 650,000 amateur radio licensees live in the United States, and there are more than 2.5 million around the world.

Through the ARRL's Amateur Radio Emergency Services program, ham volunteers provide emergency communications for thousands of state and local emergency response agencies, all for free.

To learn more about amateur radio, go to www.emergency-radio.org.

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