By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – When members of the Northeast Mississippi Radio Amateurs fired up their ham radios Saturday they didn’t get E.T. on the other end, but that was never the purpose.
Jeff Clingan, president of N.E.M.R.A., and about 30 club members used their annual Field Day in Fulton to contact hundreds of other ham radio operators from other areas of the globe. Field Day is an annual event nationwide sponsored by the American Radio League on the last full weekend of June every year.
For those who love spending a day setting up antennas and chatting briefly with people they’ve never met, the day couldn’t have been better.
Clingan, who has been an amateur operator since 1987, said it’s a day of fellowship and practice for emergencies.
“This is a good way for us to get together and talk to other operators in other places, but it’s also great practice time,” said Clingan. “It’s an opportunity for us to get out there and set up our radios to get practice in operating them. There are times we have to use them for emergencies and we need to make sure we have people who know just what to do when that time comes.”
When a tornado hit Smithville on April 27, all the communication lines were destroyed and there was no electricity, so communication was virtually impossible coming out of Smithville. Tommy Poole, a four-year member of the N.E.M.R.A., got on his ham radio and sent out a message that the town had been hit before he headed out to help with rescue efforts.
“See, to operate one of these radios, electricity isn’t required, so when something like what happened in Smithville happens we can still get information out,” Poole said.
Poole and other members of the group also use their radios to call in severe weather to area news outlets.
Clingan said Field Day is also a good recruiting tool.
“We want anyone who is interested to come on by and see how things work,” he said. It’s a fun thing to do and it is really helpful at certain times.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.