ARES in a Small Town

I’m afraid I haven’t spend much time on the air lately, because what time I have for ham radio has been devoted to a project that began as an idea for a blog post and has grown . . . and grown . . . and grown! I hope to write it all up when everything comes together, but I don’t want to give it away just yet. For now I’ll just give you a few clues: I’ve been assembling some test equipment, including an inductance-capacitance meter kit and a signal generator kit, and I received a tantalizing shipment in the mail today from a fellow who wrote a stellar article in QST 31 years ago. Stay tuned!

On another front, I finally got to meet a local ham who is the IT manager at the hospital in our small town (population ~3K) — Mr. Andrew Rosenau, KCØYFY. I’ve been meaning to introduce myself to him ever since moving out here, but when I found out a few days ago that he is our county’s ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) Emergency Coordinator, I sent him an email right away. He replied immediately, and today, after wrapping up a meeting in another part of the hospital, I ambled over and chatted with him for a few minutes in his office.

Behind him on his desk sat an HF rig, a 2M rig, and a TNC. Andy explained that he was a ham before moving here, and he got involved with ARES when the hospital became interested in EmComm. But with so few hams in our area (only 14 in the whole county), there hasn’t been much in the way of ARES activity. I volunteered to do what I could, and he said that for starters I could act as a back-up operator there at his station if he were unavailable in time of need.

It turns out that Minnesota has a huge packet network, and a radio club in a nearby town has even installed an antenna right in our city to extend this network. That was news to me! I’m going to have to dig up my old TNC and see if I can get it running. As much as I prefer CW, I have to admit that it does seem like an excellent way to handle traffic in an emergency.

ARES has always interested me. I’ve never been involved in it before, back when I lived in the Twin Cities, but now I think I owe it to my community. It appears that while there is less opportunity to do much ARES work out here in the sticks, there is also more opportunity for one ham to make a difference. So far Andy has been all alone in his effort — if even one ham chips in, that would double the number of ARES operators in our county.

Andy’s wife is a ham, too! I hope to have them over for dinner one of these days and get to know them better.

Todd Mitchell, NØIP, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Minnesota, USA. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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