When normal means of communication are down, most often the government turns to local ham radio operators to fill in the gap. This is especially useful during national and local emergencies, as most ham radio operators have access to communications, where cell phones and the Internet no longer work.
The Wayne Radio Amateur Emergency Team (WRAET) club newly founded in Wayne NJ is no exception. In fact, the club is dedicated to the Wayne Office of Emergency Management (Wayne OEM) providing backup communications as well as expanding the “footprint” of the first responders beyond their usual geographical limits. Membership in the club enjoys the additional benefits of belonging to Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) which requires association with a government entity, in this case – Wayne OEM. Belonging makes the WRAET club an official emergency operations club recognized nation-wide.
Amateur radio operators enrolled in the club can also be members of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, organized by the American Radio Relay League. ARES provides emergency communications in the conventional Amateur Radio Service without the need for an emergency declaration from the government. So, the combined benefit of belonging to both RACES and ARES provides unusual opportunities in training for emergency operations as well as being the official organization for emergency communications during an emergency.
Our club is also chartered by the ARRL as a full-service ARRL club with all of the benefits enjoyed through this affiliation.
While these communications are usually local in nature, supported by the club’s VHF communications, the WRAET club also can provide the opportunity for long-haul emergency communications through The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS). MARS is a United States Department of Defense sponsored program, established as a separately managed and operated program by the United States Army and the United States Air Force. The program is a civilian auxiliary consisting of licensed amateur radio operators who are interested in assisting the military with communications on a local, national, and international basis as an adjunct to normal communications. The MARS programs also include active duty, reserve, and National Guard units; Navy, Marine Corps, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ships, and Coast Guard cutters and shore stations. MARS has a long history of providing worldwide auxiliary emergency communications during times of need. The combined two-service MARS programs (Army, and Air Force), volunteer force of over 3,000 dedicated and skilled amateur radio operators provide the backbone of the MARS program. The main benefit of MARS membership is enjoying the amateur radio hobby through an ever-expanding horizon of MARS service to the nation. MARS members work by the slogan “Proudly Serving Those Who Serve”.
The WRAET club is fortunate to also enjoy the benefits of traditional amateur radio clubs as a member without a member focus on emergency communications. Indeed, members without an amateur radio license are also invited to join the club by just having an interest in the hobby. The club provides great exposure to the hobby through its many and varied activities. These activities include both training to become a licensed amateur radio operator as well as club conduct of the tests (see VEC write-up) to become a licensed amateur radio operator.
Other activities include Field Day. Field Day is ham radio’s open house. Every June, more than 40,000 hams throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate ham radio’s science, skill and service to our communities and our nation. Field Day combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933, and remains the most popular event in ham radio.
Most notably, the WRAET club additionally enjoys the Jamboree-on-the-Air, or JOTA, the largest Scouting event in the world. It is held annually the third full weekend in October. JOTA uses amateur radio to link Scouts and hams around the world, around the nation, and in our own community. This year it occurs on October 22-23 with the club site running a JOTA station for Troop 108 at Our Lady of the Valley Church, 630 Valley Road. The club has members heavily involved in scouting including some having reached the top scouting level of Eagle Scout.
The WRAET club operates three repeaters under the KD2KWT call sign (2M, 220, 440). All repeaters are located on top of St. Joseph hospital in Wayne NJ, the highest location in town. All radio amateurs are invited to join us on these open repeaters for QSOs and regular amateur use — whether a member or not. Club members can exclusively access these repeaters from anywhere via EchoLink using KR2I-L (node:660861).
How to Join
You don’t have to be a radio amateur to join the club, but it is highly recommended to get an amateur radio license. If you are not licensed already, we can definitely help you with that. To join the club, you will need to fill a membership form and pay the membership dues ($35.00 paid annually). You can find the form here. Once you become a member, you will benefit from all the services we offer.