YORKVILLE – Imagine what would happen for a moment if suddenly the underlying structure of the internet broke in Paulding County.
Everything is IP (internet protocol) based these days, from telephone conversations and text messages to the video being shot on phones across the globe every moment of the day. Appliances require apps and Wi-Fi connections nowadays, as well as many of the cars built in the past decade. Businesses rely on the internet to conduct transactions and keep track of inventory – heck many businesses are solely based on the internet (this one included.) Traffic signals and speed cameras rely on networking, as well as much of the utility infrastructure and public safety communications. Even jails need connectivity to get much of their systems to work together in modern times.
So if some horrible virus were to take over the network and render everything we hold dear in life useless – including the simple ability to call people – then what are we supposed to do? Or in the worst case scenario, a natural disaster wipes out the telecommunications system for weeks on end.
How does one get the word out to the world that we need help? You need a master of the airwaves, someone who understands that many of the technologies of yesteryear are still being employed to keep people connected even when the worst happens.
The Silver Comet Amateur Radio Society is one of many groups dedicated to keeping ham radio technologies up and running in Paulding County and the surrounding area, ensuring that when communities are cut off from regular sources of contact officials have a chance to coordinate their efforts via the airwaves not regularly used anymore.
Members gathered this weekend (wrapping up their time today) for the American Radio Relay League Field Day, when all the amateur radio clubs gather in the United States to setup and broadcast back and forth. The operators get a chance to practice for if they are ever needed by emergency officials to get their gear up and running fast, and also chat with friends over the airwaves.
The annual event held on the last weekend of June brought out the diehards in the group, who had antennas strung up in front of the old fire station on Crossroads Church Road in Yorkville.
Chuck DuVall, Former president of the Silver Comet Amateur Radio Society, pointed toward the various stations and pointed toward the tables. “We’ve got three stations setup in here, even one with Morse code,” he said. “Another one is setup in the trailer outside.”
Current president Dan Ozment explained that Paulding County owns this trailer, but the volunteers from the club are the ones who are on-hand to sit and don headphones, relaying messages if the time ever comes their radios are needed. It’s a tight fit inside with the various equipment packed in, enough for two people to work the radios inside.
It does take someone skilled and FCC licensed to run this equipment, and the masters fought through everything from atmospheric interference to operators on the other end of radios elsewhere across the country talking over one another on various channels being shot out into the ether throughout the day on Saturday, and through this afternoon.
The Silver Comet Amateur Radio Society wants more people to get involved with their efforts not only to ensure that a useful technology remains present in people’s lives, but is also ready for if the time comes that the internet isn’t working and society needs their talents.