A nonprofit amateur radio group will host a live broadcast Saturday from Lakeview Park as part of the summer Amateur Radio Relay League Field Day.
Participants will broadcast for 24 hours from a communications trailer that will be located near the Barnes Shelter. Set-up starts at 10 a.m. Saturday with broadcasts at 1 p.m.
Audrain Emergency Communications Inc. is a group of amateur radio operators who assist with emergency situations under the umbrella of Audrain County Emergency Management.
"Everyone is welcome to come, and we'll even put them on the air and let them operate it if they want to," said Mike Wood, one of the event organizers.
Field Day is a contest of sorts. Broadcasters get points for reaching certain distant stations, mostly in North America. "Hopefully, we'll make some other contacts in other countries,” Wood said. “Stations around the world will try to contact us, and they'll be giving us points for making the contact.”
The group works with Audrain County Emergency Management Director Nick Tietsort or other organizations, such as Mexico Public Safety or the Audrain County Sheriff's Office, Wood said. "If their cellphones are down, we can operate and they can still communicate in the field," he said.
The communications trailer can be used as a command center for search and rescue operations or other emergency situations in which a central communications hub is required in the field, he said.
Wood has participated in amateur radio operation, often called "ham radio," for 51 years. He got his start at age 20 because he was fascinated by the concept of global communication.
The trailer is fully equipped with computers, radios and telemetry equipment for operating communications in the field. The group received a number of grants to purchase and equip the trailer. Audrain Emergency Communications could be deployed if a neighboring county would have need of the trailer for a remote operation, Wood said. The group does only deploys when asked for assistance by emergency management or law enforcement.
"It's a fully operational trailer as far as communications," Wood said. "We can give radios to operators in the field, and we can track them from the trailer using what is called APRS, which is GPS-tracking system."
The APRS system allows group members to direct people involved with search and rescue.
"It's state of the art," Wood said. "We have a repeater. It can be set up at a central location and that way instead of operating over a short range, they can operate over the whole county or several counties, for that matter."