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Communications drill to be held Saturday to practice in the event of an emergency
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Red Cross

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    Amateur radio operators around the country, including locally in Bulloch County, will be taking part in a communications drill to practice in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.
    Local radio operators are working in conjunction with the Bulloch County Red Cross to simulate what would take place were something to happen to knock out other communication capabilities.
    "They would be our internal communications," said Mary Ball, director of the local Red Cross chapter.
    Ball said communication is something people take for granted, but as people saw after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 or the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, cell phones or even traditional telephones aren't always available.
    Amateur radio operator Mark Aulick is one of those participating in what is called "Field Day."
    "The idea is to get into the 'field' and operate with emergency power such as a generator or batteries and work in makeshift accommodations," he said. "It's practice for emergency communications."
    In addition to working in adverse conditions, the nationwide event also has contests among those participating to see who can operate the longest and who can make the most contacts.
    Aulick said amateur radio is ideal for communicating in emergency situations because they don't rely on any outside infrastructure to be able to talk to others. Instead, each operator owns everything he or she needs to be able to talk to others.
    "We have our own power source," he said. "We don't need wires and most of the time we can carry our own antennas. We're extremely flexible and can get into places where there are no communications infrastructure and get the message out."
    Aulick said amateur radio operators in Bulloch County have been involved with the Red Cross for several years and, in fact, Ball has begun working on obtaining her amateur radio license and is working to get members of the board of directors to do the same.
    Ball said the drill will start at 2 p.m. Saturday and continue until Sunday morning.
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