HAM Radio operators fine tune their skills

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Coast Amateur Radio Convention was held Saturday at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College-Jefferson Davis Campus. Radio Operators made their way to Biloxi for the Annual National Field Day event.

These are the folks we depend on when our phones and other forms of communication are knocked out. That's why these radio operators are doing what it takes to make sure they're prepared to keep you safe and informed.

In a state of emergency, communication is key, and this group of volunteers pride themselves on providing that communication.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Amateur Radio Association has been serving this community since the 1970s. Their mission is clear and on days like this, they keep that mission alive.

"Field Day is a national event where amateur radio operators get together and make as many contacts under emergency or simulated emergency other simulated emergency conditions with other stations throughout the United States and Canada," said radio operator Harry Samuelson.

"It's not a good thing just to sit down and open up a box and try to put a radio on the air. The practice is needed, and that's what field day is all about," said Malcolm Keown of the Amateur Radio Relay League.

This equipment may seem a little dated in a society dominated by Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks, but even now, this trusted system has proven beneficial and continues to help save lives.

"Amateur radio systems have been involved in just about all major disasters and storms. The recent tornadoes in Alabama, amateur radio operators provided emergency communications. Katrina, amateur radio was the only form of communication outside of the Gulf Coast area," said Samuelson.

"We call ourselves the last line of defense when all the commercial and public service systems go down and we're always there ready to help," said Keown.

No doubt it takes a lot of hard work to pull this mission off, but these men say that doesn't matter because they do it all from the heart.

The Mississippi Coast Amateur Radio Association is one of 22 groups that practiced Saturday throughout the state. Nationwide there are about 1,500 groups doing the same.

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