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RAC President Phil McBride, VA3QR
RAC President Phil McBride, VA3QR
RAC President Phil McBride, VA3QR:

As we weather the storms that Mother Nature is throwing at us – as described in the CBC News Report by Moira Donavan (see below) – the Amateur Radio Service is once again being looked upon as a valuable tool for establishing last-mile communications during times when traditional infrastructure is disabled or destroyed.

Radio Amateurs of Canada is currently consulting with various governments and agencies across the country to inform them of what we can do to serve our communities in times of need.

Moira Donovan · CBC · Posted: Sep 06, 2023 5:00 AM EDT

“As Atlantic Canada gears up for another hurricane season after a year of unprecedented disasters linked to climate change – including post-tropical storm Fiona last September – Amateur Radio operators say a simple technology can play a part in the response to disasters across the region.

When Fiona hit Nova Scotia, it affected electrical grids and telecommunications networks, leaving some people unable to call for help. That experience in particular prompted a renewed interest in Amateur Radio which allows non-professional users to send messages without requiring the internet or cellphone networks.

John Bignell Halifax ARC President

‘I think it’s kind of an unsung hero in communications that gets forgotten in the noise of disaster when it comes to, ‘Well, how do we get that message out?’, said John Bignell, President of the Halifax Amateur Radio Club.

The Halifax Amateur Radio Club is one of the oldest amateur radio clubs in North America, dating back to 1932. 

Bignell first got interested in Amateur Radio as a teenager. He said its simplicity is part of its enduring appeal.

‘The ability to build your own radio and then send a message that bounces around the atmosphere and be able to talk around the world with a simple little wire, it’s kind of cool,’ he said.

But Amateur Radio is more than a hobby; because it doesn’t require a service provider such as a telecommunications company, or extensive infrastructure, it can step in during disasters when other systems fail.

Jason Tremblay,  Community Services Officer for Radio Amateurs of Canada, a national volunteer-based network of Amateur Radio operators, said that the organization is pushing for Amateur Radio to be included in more conversations about strengthening communications systems.

‘Being able to work with government agencies, work with NGOs and members of the community, it’s a way for us to understand what their needs are – it’s a way to better our service.’

He said as technologies and climate conditions change, Amateur Radio operators are taking on new methods and challenges in disaster response.

‘There’s been an explosion of interest from emergency managers,’ he said. ‘I think there will always be a call for Amateur Radio; it’ll always adapt and be there.”

Jason Tremblay, VE3JXT
Jason Tremblay, VE3JXT – RAC Community Services Officer

After the news report was published, RAC Community Services Officer Jason Tremblay, VE3JXT, stated:

“For decades, the Amateur Radio Service has been a valuable asset to communities worldwide during times of crisis. Amateur Radio operators take pride in their experimentation, education and their ability to provide assistance when needed.

The events of 2022 and 2023 have reignited interest in the involvement of CanWarn and Amateur Radio in disaster communications, leading to the development of national programs and ongoing collaborations with government and non-governmental emergency management organizations across Canada.

The first stage of the new Auxiliary Communications Service has been launched in Ontario, aimed at addressing the very issues highlighted in the CBC article. The changes made to the Field Organizations have been published in The Canadian Amateur Magazine over the past two years.”

For the complete article please see:

Climate change is affecting telecommunications infrastructure. Ham radio might be able to help | CBC News