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Survey Question
How practical do you find Field Day-like operations with regards to true emergency preparedness?
  Posted: May 13, 2016   (393 votes, 26 comments) by N2MG

  Extremely practical
  Moderately practical
  Slightly practical
  Hardly practical
  Not practical at all
    (393 votes, 26 comments)

Survey Results
Extremely practical 16% (61)
Moderately practical 37% (146)
Slightly practical 24% (95)
Hardly practical 14% (54)
Not practical at all 9% (37)

Survey Comments
Not as relevant now
I actually participated in providing emergency health and welfare communications during the 1989 Loma Prieta quake in the SF bay area. I was a FEMA and OES trained ARES AEC. The epicenter was only a couple of miles away from my QTH. Field day is a contest sponsored by the ARRL with the guise of emergency preparedness. In the 80's before the advent of cell and satellite phones, I believed that amateur radio emergency communications was a benefit. Now that the infrastructure has been built out in the last 25+ years, I do not believe that EmComm is as relevant as it was a few decades ago. Field day is mostly HF and there is no practical message handling done. It is just another ARRL "traditional" contest. I participate almost every year in field day. I enjoy field day. I even hate contesting, but I enjoy field day. I am even in charge of operations for my local ham club for field day this year. I just do not believe that it is a practice for Emergency communications. Times have changed. But field day I have participating in field day since the early 70's. It is just a lot of fun! My newly minted ham YL will be in charge of the GOTA station this year, so it is exciting to see her getting so excited about field day.

Posted by KB6QXM on May 24, 2016

It's an experience
I feel every amateur should get one of these
field day exercises under their belt. In the
end, they really make you appreciate having a
ham shack in a controlled environment and
exposure to what a S9+ QRM environment is

Posted by AD0AR on May 24, 2016

FD is what you make of it
Living on the front line of the soon to come Cascadia Subduction Zone quake, which will be the most devastating natural disaster in modern times for breadth and cost, I use FD and our SET's to work with what I would use after the Big One comes calling assuming I survive. New gear needs to be checked out. Improvements will come as shortcomings are noted. Constant refinement is a literal life and death deal for me. I take it as seriously as I did my radio ops with SAC back in the day, when World War III hung on what I said.

For those who want to do the social aspect, have fun! I'll be going to the worst possible QTH for on-air work to see what my gear can do and no one will be around to bother me nor get entangled in my footprint of radials, tripods, solar power gear, antennas and radios. I won't be bothering with any logs, just checking out what the radios and I can do. Why not? There's gonna be a lot of on-air activity so this is a GREAT time to see how your equipment does in the FIELD!

That's why it's called Field Day.

Posted by WA7SGS on May 22, 2016

sausage fest
A bunch of old men playing hide the salami.

Posted by SSBER on May 21, 2016

Its ok
Most FD ops nowdays are not so much an
emergency excerise but a social gathering.
Here in The Valley of the Sun most clubs
pack all their gear and people up into the
high country to get away from the heat.
thats not really much of a emergency
training op but more of a group get away.
They plan for months on what equipment to
take, what antennas they are going to use,
who is bringing what food. everyone that can
takes their RV/campers so they will have all
the comforts of home. But thats ok..they
have fun in a way that suits them. It is
good planning for those emergencies that you
have 3 months advanced warnings of!!!

Posted by N0FPE on May 20, 2016

Field Day
FD doesn't have to closely adhere to someone's imagined disaster scenario form, in order to have practical value. As long as it has components that help to expose participants to various parts of possible scenarios, it serves the purpose. As governmental entities took in higher tax revenues, along with technological advancements, the necessity for an amateur radio response to disaster has declined. Sometimes we can aid and benefit but really being needed, for serious and important communications, has greatly declined, in the US. Unless doomsday befalls us all, it's unlikely that amateurs will ever play a major roles in most disasters again.

Posted by WA4DOU on May 20, 2016

Field Day
A planned event like field day is hardly
an exercise for emergency preparedness. If
anyone seriously wanted to make it an
emergency preparedness type of event, give
15 minutes notice, to get home, and gather
up what you need. It won't be a contest,
or show off your gear fun day. You will
probably be hoping that fuel stabilizer
worked, or be going barefoot with a
mobile, from your vehicle. I have had the
unenviable experience of setting up
generator sets for mobile command centers,
triage and temporary morgues, after
hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, blizzards,
& an earthquake. It ain't field day, by a
long shot. I start by running around with
a hi pot tester, checking distribution
gear, then getting everything hooked up, &
the power on. You can and will run through
fuel like crazy. You may need to truck the
fuel in from miles away. I did a solitary
station after a major hail storm. I had 6,
5 gallon cans of gasoline, and an 8000
watt generator. SRP had three service
trucks stuck in the mud, trying to get the
69,000 volt lines off the interstate.
Meanwhile women were giving birth in their
cars. I tore the feeders out of my house
panel and ran the house off the generator.
I cut the house back to the bare
essentials, and had a friend's station on
the air within a few hours. We had to
board up windows, and pump out flood
water. Cell phones were useless. Land
lines were down. No electricity. I am
looking into a natural gas and or propane
gen set. You just need to change the jets
to switch fuels. I had to siphon gas from
vehicles. I worked a flood. The gas
station underground storage tanks had all
been fouled with flood waters. We found
one up on a hill with good gas. It's not
field "day". It's more like, "We don't
know when it will end day". It could be a
24 hour day, or a 288 hour day, or even
longer. With diesel gen sets, you do NOT
let those tanks run dry, and it's a bad
idea to let a gasoline generator run dry
too. We set a schedule & refuel every 2-24
hours depending on the setup. You may be
siphoning fuel from vehicles, just to get
any fuel at all. Food is another matter,
as is potable water. You may need to boil
all your drinking water. You may be wading
around in sewage, garbage & gasoline. You
might be fighting off heatstroke &
dehydration, or frostbite & dehydration.
It sure ain't no field day!

Posted by KI7AQJ on May 19, 2016

Great experience
Even though Field Day on-air operations are generally nothing like what you would do in a real emergency and Field Day setups are different than and generally way beyond what you would actually use for emergency communications, the experience of planning, setting up, fixing unexpected problems, making do when you forget some piece of equipment, operating for a long time away from home, etc., are very definitely relevant. Besides FD being just plain fun and a great social event, any activity that help potential emergency preparedness is certainly not a waste of time and effort.

As far as a "waste of DX Band Space," chasing DX serves no useful purpose because in an emergency when normal comms break down you generally need to communicate with someone 5 or 50 or maybe up to 500 miles away, not on the other side of the ocean in some pseudo-country defined only for the purpose of getting an award for DX.

If DHS/FEMA thought Amateur Radio was not a valuable communications resource in emergencies, then they would not have developed and be offering a free 2 day classroom AUXCOMM course/workshop for hams across the country, and would not be talking about adding AUXCOMM as an official function in the ICS/NIMS structure.

Posted by KC2WI on May 18, 2016

Field Day
Having participated in the State's largest Fire Disaster in 2014 Ham radio played a very small part, passed one msg in 10 days. Portable cell towers and sat phone were the winners. In an even larger Disaster in 2015 Hams were not called out. I think they were to busy having to evacuate themselves. But again other Comm modes replaced Ham Radio. I participated in many FD over the years but none beats the simulated disasters prep. FD is more of a social event.

Posted by KI7DG on May 18, 2016

only a little
Most of the FD operations I've seen are
just real good at organizing and putting
up a FD site, and getting on the air and
making a lot of contacts.
If they actually had to pass a lot of real
messages, forget it.
The public service exposure can sometimes
be minimal. One group operates on the
athletic field of a school, but they're
not visible from the front street. They do
put up one banner, but it's not something
Joe Public would notice, let alone, "Hey,
let's see what they're doing!"
A lot of the time it's a big club social
event with FOOD. That's sometimes all that
brings even their members out there.

Posted by AD7DB on May 17, 2016

Field day & Net ops
I find both field day and regular network operation's go hand in hand. Remember the Boy Scout model BE PREPARED.

Posted by KK6FYE on May 17, 2016

Not Reality
Part contest - Part party - Part emergency
operations - Part public awareness

Neither fish nor fowl

Posted by KG4RUL on May 17, 2016

Field Day
I find that it is a good way to check out my ecomm equipment and attempt to find it weaknesses and shortcomings. I also try out new equipment that can fulfill the needs.

Admittedly, it is not really the way that emergency communications, but can be used for practice.

Posted by WB5X on May 16, 2016

It's fun, but it's not ECOM
As an amateur radio institution, Field Day is still awesome! It's SUPPOSED to be fun ... and an excuse to camp out all weekend! But practical by today's ECOM model? Nope. In fact, if amateur radio is to regain relevance in anything outside of the 2-meter handheld, bicycle race or marathon mode ... we'd better change the way we do business ... which means the FCC rules have to change slightly as well. If not, we're gonna hear more and more "Thanks, but no thanks!" when we volunteer for service during actual disasters that require real Emergency COMmunications where the proven ICS model is used ... and since its use is tied to, guess what? Money! You should get the picture.

Posted by K9CTB on May 16, 2016

Not practical
WB0HZL has it right. Field days are just
social events now. Running a generator powered
station while off duty ops cook burgers on the
grill and drink cold beer is hardly emergency

Posted by WB4M on May 15, 2016

Field day
I agree that Field Day is nothing more than
glorified contest on steroids. It if really
wants to be for emergency practice then make
it where you actually have to pass traffic.
Set up several hundred messages that would
need to be passed to either specific points
or to all points. Not just a 59 2X garbage
either. Pass it in true message format and
received messages written in correct format.
Turn these in for your points. Bet a lot of
big guns would scream no-no that this idea.
Waste of time for the 4KW + stations. Yes,
they are out there. Lets make it a real
practice and not a free for all like it is

Posted by N0FQN on May 15, 2016

Good Memories of FD Here...
Hi Guys,

Field Day at our local club was regarded as a superb
outdoor get-together for like-minded Hams --- a great
way to re-enforce friendships in a wonderful fraternity.

Maybe true-blue-dyed-in-the-wool emergency simulation
wasn't a primary goal --- but it sure was fun to mingle
with old friends, make new ones, experiment with wire
antennas that you couldn't do on limited suburban lots,
increase your CW speed, & hone your contest skills.

I have nothing but wonderful memories of my
participation going back 45 years, with 3 separate radio

Posted by VE3CUI on May 15, 2016

Field day
Let's stop trying to kid ourselves and

Posted by K0CBA on May 15, 2016

Not ECOMM practice
Events like contesting and field day are NOT practice for
ECOMM. The type of operation during an "actual"
emergency has very little in common with field day or
During an emergency, ECOMM nets come on the air,
and are strictly controlled. It's not a "free for all", it's
standardized and tightly regulated.
Contests and field day (to a lesser degree) are radio
chaos,with seemingly not limits on power or bad
operating technics.
ECOMM is orderly and regulated. Very little to related to
contest style operations.

Posted by KK5DR on May 15, 2016

Field Day
It let's you set up out in the field and see
how well things work. Way too many people
think it is a big outdoor contest and only
care about winning.

Posted by KC9HQV on May 14, 2016

Field Day
I really enjoy setting up on the fly. When REAL emergencys such as hurricaines cruise thru und all the vhf,uhf und microwave links r destroyed or inoperative...that's when the good 'ol hf works for sure. Just make sure all ur batteries are charged und gas und oil for the generators. Respectfully Jimi*Starr a.k.a. KB3WGE

Posted by KB3WGE on May 14, 2016

Train, train, train...
Field Day probably doesn't lend itself to a real world
scenario where field conditions would be replicated. But
it does provide the opportunity to train, train, train and to
think about what you would really need in austere
conditions, probably at your own QTH. During a serious
emergency where a large metropolitan area is affected,
you will first ensure your own QTH and family are safe
and secure before moving on to a larger scale reaction..

Posted by KA4AQM on May 14, 2016

Slightly Practical
So far most communication related emergencies are local in nature, or slightly larger. Most of them involve situations that do not lend themselves to be reproduced on field day.

The one area where it can be most useful is in a thorough checking out of your field ready equipment, portable antennas, power sources, and transceivers. However, when you are engrossed in field day operating,you usually forget all about this and concentrate on contacts. So it is not much different than day to day operation.

Posted by AI2IA on May 14, 2016

Field Day
Not practical at all. A lot of clubs worry
more about stuff like this than actually
planning what to do when an real emergency

Posted by N0IU on May 14, 2016

True Emergencies
Field Day is generally planned many months in advance and everyone knows their job, where the equipment is, who is assigned what task, where to be and when. Meals are planned and chow times are posted.

In a True Emergency, when everything is like OMG what just happened. You use what you can find that is working and get on the air as best you can. In addition you are worrying about friends and family. Unless you are truly prepared, your food and drinking water may be severely limited, along with gas for generators - if gas stations are working - then there is fuel for cooking food and the like.

Field day is fun and a great time but it is only slightly practical to prepare for a true full-blown emergency.

I have done real emergency communications after floods, tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes and a Super Typhoon. Prior planning does help but it truly does not prepare you for or cover everything that can and probably will happen. Just my 2 cents worth.

Posted by WB0HZL on May 14, 2016

Field Day
Mostly just like 99.9% of the Nets on Amateur
Radio it's a useless waste of time,effort,&
energy & a huge amount of good DX Band Space.

Posted by W4KVW on May 13, 2016

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