Alachua County ham radio volunteers achieve great score in national emergency communications exercise

Volunteers at the Cuscowilla Nature and Retreat Center operating their transmitters at the competition

Press release from Alachua County Amateur Radio Emergency Service

ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – With 15 volunteers and radio operators, two portable trailer-mounted radio towers, two generators, and five shortwave transmitters, Alachua County emergency communications volunteers made 1,643 radio connections in a 24-hour exercise, 29% above their 2023 effort. This should put them in the upper 10% nationally in their competition segment.

Without using any Internet or utility electrical power for their radios, they contacted every U.S. state and 17 foreign countries, including Canada, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, European Russia, Germany, France, U.S. Virgin Islands, Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Italy, Japan, and Oman.

Key assets for the volunteer group included their newly-constructed 35-foot tilting/telescoping radio tower on a flatbed trailer that can be towed to a disaster location to assist in communications and their microwave high-speed data network. Their network is private and is separate from the Internet to prevent hacking. They provide their own “Network Time Protocol” server, based on satellite signals, also separate from the Internet. Power for their operations came from their personally-owned diesel and gasoline generators, which operated throughout the event.

State of Florida Region 3 Mutual Aid Radio Communications added in their 100-foot trailer-mounted tower to assist, one of four such Florida state emergency radio assets that were deployed during the same weekend for training and increasing interoperability with ham radio volunteers statewide.

Alachua County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES(R)) volunteers are officially affiliated with Alachua County as volunteers to Emergency Management. Further information can be found at their website: https://www.nf4rc.club/

  • Too bad they couldn’t contact that Russian sub off of Cuba.. see what it’s up to there..

  • Congratulations to these talented people to fill a critical need during a catastrophic crisis.
    Many people would not realize how important it is to have communication when power is down.
    Many thanks!

  • This volunteer group is a little known huge asset to our community. Imagine being unable to use your cellphone or computer to communicate with others especially following a major hurricane. These volunteers respond to assist local first responders and deserve our immense appreciation.

  • Thank you, Volunteers! I have a child who gets very anxious when he hears about natural disasters. I told him about these wonderful people and their efforts. He was so relieved. Thank you

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