The Eastern Shore Amateur Radio Club participated in an emergency communications preparedness exercise on December 13, 2023. The exercise, known as a “Shelter Test,” involved setting up and operating emergency radio communications using amateur (ham) radio to communicate with similar operations throughout the county.
The club coordinated its December 2023 Shelter Test from the Accomack County Emergency Operations Center (“EOC”), on Beacon Road, Melfa (near the airport) and from the Northampton County EOC in Eastville.
From the Emergency Operations Centers, the radio operators established reliable communications between the two county EOCS and with several of the locations that will be used as shelters in times of emergency on the Eastern Shore. In the event of a hurricane, or other major disaster, the counties have established several shelters located around the counties. These are locations where residents could go for food, medical care and short-term housing. See graphic for Accomack County shelter map which is available on the Accomack County Web Site or the Hurricane Preparedness Guide on Shoredailynews.com.
Amateur radio operators – “hams” – operate on shortwave and higher radio frequencies, to communicate locally, regionally and globally. Several members of ESARC have been recognized for making contacts with over 100 countries around the globe. In March 2023, ESARC took first place in a statewide radio competition testing skills in portable communications. The Eastern Shore Amateur Radio Club – “ESARC” – which consists of more than 30 FCC-licensed radio operators – practices emergency operations several times a year.
In the December 13 test, ESARC members coordinated communications from the Accomack County Emergency Operations Center to Acadia High School and Nandua High School – two major shelters. The group also established contact with members stationed at Northampton County’s EOC in Eastville.
According to the latest reports from the Federal Communications Commission, there are now over 750,000 licensed amateur radio operators in the United States. Millions more in countries all around the world.