In these days of instant communication in a number of ways, a group in Herkimer County continues an older method to help protect the community.
The Fort Herkimer Amateur Radio Association brings together ham radio operators throughout the county who not only share tips on the hobby, but also volunteer to work events, collect items for donations and work with agencies in emergency situations.
Amateur radio, more commonly known as ham radio, began around 1904 and quickly became taken up by people who had an antenna and transmitter. For safety reasons, in the United States it was outlawed during World War I, returning after the war.
While it’s fairly easy to start- get the equipment and place the antenna as high as possible - operators need to be certified and licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. It’s illegal to go on the air without one.
Around the world about 3 million people are ham radio operators. Of those, 700,000 live in the United States.
The Herkimer County group meets at the 911 Center on the Herkimer Community College campus at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month. The club was founded in 1978.
At a recent meeting, when Don Peterson (KD2ILO) took attendance, the 15 of the club’s approximately 40 members answered not with their names, but their call sign. Each operator has a code specific to them that is used when communicating on the radio.
Peterson reviewed the club’s recent participation in the Pumpkin Patrol. Members of the club assisted New York State Police on Halloween night by monitoring…