Many individuals and groups organizing events for Field Day 2020 have been contacting ARRL for guidance on how to adapt their planned activities in this unprecedented time of social distancing and uncertainty.
“Due to the unique situation presented this year, this can be an opportunity for you, your club, and/or group to try something new,” ARRL Contest Manager Paul Bourque, N1SFE, said. “Field Day isn’t about doing things the same way year after year. Use this year to develop and employ a new approach that is in line with the current circumstances.”
Social distancing and state and local requirements very likely will impact just how — and even whether — you are able to participate in Field Day this year. ARRL continues monitoring the coronavirus situation, paying close attention to information and guidance offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If social distancing means that Class A with a 30-member team set up in a city park won’t work this year, then it’s time for a Plan B. Part of the Field Day concept has always been adapting your operation to the situation at hand. At its heart, Field Day is an emergency communication demonstration. Field Day rules are flexible enough to allow individuals and groups to adjust their participation and strategies in a way that still addresses their needs while being fun. Some possibilities:
- Encourage club members to operate from their home stations on emergency power (Class E).
- Use the club’s repeater as a means for individual participants to keep in touch during the event.
- Family members interested in operating Field Day and unable to participate as part of a larger group may want to consider setting up a portable station in the backyard with a temporary antenna.
One big impact this year will be a decline in public visibility and any interaction with the visitors. Prudence may dictate dispensing with the ham radio PR table to attract passersby, should you set up in a more public location. It’s okay not to score all the bonus points you may have attempted in the past. Local and served agency officials may be unwilling to visit, which is understandable under the circumstances. Do be sure to reach out to them as part of your preparations and remind them that you look forward to continuing your working relationship with them in the future.
The impact will differ from place to place, so ARRL recommends that all amateur radio clubs participating in Field Day stay in regular contact with local or state public health officials for their advice and guidance on hosting Field Day activities.
Demonstrating an understanding of the health crisis we all face and your willingness to adapt will show that you and your club or group are good working partners with local or served agencies.
“With any emergency preparedness exercise, it’s not about adapting the situation to your operation, it’s about adapting your operation to the situation that presents itself,” Bourque said. “Try something different. Learn something new about how you prepare. It may be a challenge, and you may have to ask yourself if you’re up to the challenge. We hope to hear you on the air over the June 27 – 28 weekend.” — Thanks to Paul Bourque, N1SFE, and Dan Henderson, N1ND