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Area amateur radio club to host Hamfest Show

By Staff | Jan 15, 2009

If disaster were to strike, one of the first things to go would be certain lines of communication. Cell phones, land lines and Internet connections would be of no use, essentially plunging affected areas into a primordial age of information sharing.
Other than handwritten notes or face-to-face conversation, all communication would fall squarely on the last line of defense: radio waves, and more specifically, ham radios.
Ham radio is a slang term for amateur radio operators, though the word amateur does not reflect the skills of the operators themselves.
Amateur simply means their skills are not used for commercial or money-making purposes, only to communicate, especially during a disaster.
The Fort Myers Amateur Radio Club is the last local line of defense. ARC will demonstrate its art at the annual Hamfest Show in Fort Myers on Saturday at the Araba Shrine Auditorium. Their members will meet, greet and educate the public on their cause.
“This is a chance for people to get together and chat,” said ARC member Jim Niccum. “We’re going to have vendors, prizes, forums and training sessions for various things.”
ARC members try to stay active within the community as much as possible, not only to raise awareness of their efforts, but to keep their skills honed and ready to spring into action if need be.
Along with Hamfest, ARC holds “Field Day” events, which are marathon length sessions of communication. The group held one such event on June 2.
“That turned out very good, we had excellent results,” Niccum said of Field Day. “It was a practice session for hurricanes and natural disasters. It was a great opportunity to set up our equipment and practice.”
Each ham radio operator is completely self-sufficient. They have their own generators, specifically for emergency situations.
ARC members often dive head first into post-disaster situations. Radio operators have been on the scene mere hours after natural terror strikes.
“We sent three or four people to Katrina and they stayed for a couple weeks, they got supplies,” Niccum said. “They did the same thing with Andrew. Within three hours we had people over there who set up communications.”
Those who are curious about ham radio are welcome to attend Hamfest, or merely get in touch with the club.
Niccum’s passion for ham radio began when he was only a child, and has carried through his entire life. After retirement, he finally had the time to explore the passion fully.
ARC welcomes anyone with a vested interest in helping to save lives. Hamfest will offer just such opportunities with hands-on instruction and used equipment available for sale.
“We’re self-sufficient,” Niccum said. “In case of emergencies, we will be there on the spot, to save lives and to help people through the emergency.”
Hamfest runs from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is $5 per adult. Parking is free. For more information, contact Niccum at 997-6423.