Over the past week, I did a service event with CARES (Clermont Amateur Radio Emergency Service) roving around at the county fair.  This was done in conjunction with the county sheriff's department, who likes to have some extra sets of eyes around.

An event like this involves a lot of walking around, and doesn't always lend itself to a normal "go pack" that would fit in a backpack, since the added weight would feel really heavy (no matter how light).  In addition, since we're talking about a fair, there is a lot of people and amenities around, so we don't have to be in "survival" mode.  However, during the week (on just about every day), we've been hit by strong thunderstorms, and my night at the fair was no exception.

Prep: Attire

During the days here, the temperature has been hitting the 90s, so shorts and short sleeves was the order of the day.  We have vests to wear as well.  Fortunately, our vests have pockets on the inside and outside (a definite plus!).  The vests also have a pocket in the back that was excellent for a rain coat.  Of course, I had shoes on, but the not-very-smart thing I did was use my nicer running shoes (instead of the older running shoes I use when I mow the lawn).  Either way, comfortable athletic shoes were the best to go with.

Prep: Stuff

The things that worked was my Wouxun dual bander, speaker/mic.  I had a battery pack with AAs in my back pocket.

The thing that could have worked better was my earphones that I was using with the speaker mic - I had a stereo set and one side did not work.  Also, the cord was way too long.

What did not work at all was the water bottle I brought.  I had one that was refillable, and being out and away from the truck meant that I had to carry it with me.  I should have brought a disposable bottle with me that I could dispose of when it was empty (there was no good place to refill the bottles).

I also had a small notepad, two maps of the grounds, a pen, and my EMA ID card (along with my normal driver's license and amateur radio license).  Most (if not all of that) should go without saying.

Prep: uh... prep!

This goes without saying, but MAKE SURE YOUR RADIOS ARE CHARGED!  Nothing makes you look worse than having your battery die in the first hour.  I recommend having two radios, both charged, and also having a spare (charged or AA) battery pack.

Make sure your frequencies are in memory, and set the radios to that memory prior to turning off the radio when charging (most will remember the frequency).  This goes double for radios like Wouxuns that are notoriously known for being difficult to program in the field.


When you get to the location the first and obvious thing is to check in (following the protocol of your group).

Remain observant.  I was there when I almost needed to call for a medical unit (fortunately it came out to be nothing).

Be where the people are.  My partners in fighting crime (the other CARES ops) saw a fight and  because they were where the most people were (at the grandstand watching the demolition derby).  That doesn't mean to ignore the rest of the complex, just make sure those places are covered (another great reason to wear bright-colored vests, as it makes it easy to see where others are).

Next up: HFP race event.


Category: Operating

About the Author

Andrew is the owner of this blog and enjoys computer programming, building things, and photography. He's a pretty busy guy, which explains why updates to this blog are so infrequent.

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