From The Vault: London Amateur Radio Club

London Amateur Radio Club, by Jeffrey Reed
Originally Published by The Londoner November 28, 2013

In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, perhaps the most severe typhoon ever, Philippine Amateur Radio volunteers provided communication support for government and relief agencies, as well as rescue and recovery officials. In fact, at some points during the devastation and cleanup, ham radio was the only means of communication available.

Here in London, the London Amateur Radio Club (est. 1920) is available to fill that same role during emergencies. Boasting about 100 members, LARC is part of a ham community with about 68,000 licensed operators across Canada.

Often during extraordinary weather, means of communication like cell phones don’t function because of overloading or power outages. But ham operators with battery backups and generators can still converse over the air waves with groups including police, fire and ambulance personnel.

landscape_1425572689-ham_radio_handOur recent wind storm didn’t reach epic proportions. But if it had, local hams were on the air at 145.45 MHz (call letters VE3OME). It’s where local hams work as a team through CANWARN – the Canadian Weather Amateur Radio Network. CANWARN is a volunteer organization of ham radio operators who report severe weather to Environment Canada.

LARC members can also be part of A.R.E.S. – the Amateur Radio Emergency Service. Trained amateur radio operators willing to assist emergency services and municipal agencies in an emergency or disaster, A.R.E.S.-qualified hams are specialists in various forms of communication modes.

With the amateur radio community a small yet important part of London, there’s a constant eye on growing LARC membership, according to club president David Lambert, VE3KGK. He said with so many other modes of communication available today, it’s a tough job interesting youngsters in amateur radio communications.

“When you mention ham radio to younger people, they say, ‘I can talk on my cell phone, or on Skype or other electronic media.’ And that is true – until the power grid goes down. Then all those systems fail,” said Lambert.

larc“Typically, ham radio operators are prepared for such emergencies with backup power, whether it be batteries or a generator. When all else fails, ham radio is the ultimate backup,” said Lambert.

Originally from Jamaica, Lambert is a retired training division operator for the London Fire Department. He didn’t obtain his ham radio licence until 1978, during the peak of the CB Radio craze. In 1979, he obtained his advanced amateur radio license.

While CB radio communications is limited, ham radio literally opens up a whole new world of communications, including assistance with local emergencies. LARC recognizes the fact today’s youth are tomorrow’s ham operators. And for that reason, club members are discussing ways to introduce ham to youngsters.

“One thing we are kicking around is having a Kid’s Day when we would find a place and set up several radios and antennas. Kids can come in, take a look, perhaps make some (on-air) contacts and we can tell them all about ham radio,” said Lambert.

Lambert agrees texting may be the hottest mode of communicating, but he said nothing compares to ham radio when all else fails.

For information on LARC, visit www.larc.ca.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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