Xenia, Ohio - Did you know there is a group of volunteers in the area that provide vital tools and resources to our Cities, Townships, and County, free! These individuals use their own resources, time, & equipment to be an integrated part of our local government communications infrastructure. Amateur Radio Operators across the country prepare and train regularly for such efforts. Locally, Amateur Radio operators equip and maintain equipment used as “back-up” in most of the local Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), ran by each municipality. Since 1974, XWARN, the local Amateur Radio group, has been an integrated part of emergency response teams throughout the county. In fact, two years ago, XWARN was given a proclamation from the City of Xenia for their efforts. While not responding to emergencies (wind storms, tornados, & power outages) Amateur Radio operators also participate in local public service events by providing communication support to marathons, cycling events and parades.
More recently, just a few short weeks ago, lightning struck a tower in Xenia, the resulting shock wave interrupted the 911 centers ability to dispatch emergency responders for Greene County. While the agencies assessed the effect of the lightning strike, each department was left to initiate their “back-up” plans to insure, that if the system would to go down completely, they can operate and dispatch their calls. The Xenia Township Fire Department called into action XWARN. Using their Communications Support Trailer (CST) equipped with both Amateur and Emergency Radio equipment, XWARN was able to respond in less then 30 mins. This dedication, continued to prove too many watching, that Amateur Radio is not just a hobby, but a well organized resource of volunteers, trained and ready to provide vital communications support to our local governments.
Many in Greene County are not aware of their service to the community. Last year a group of uninformed citizens in Xenia, stood opposed to a local Amateur Radio operator who was attempting to right his wrong(not getting a building permit), by asking the city council to allow him a variance to keep his Amateur Radio Antenna tower installed on his property. He was denied, because his set-up did not meet current zoning ordinances. Like the other hundreds of operators in the city, his intended use was for emergency communications. Some citizens are misinformed about the vital role of Amateur Radio and are motivated in large part by their opinion of such equipment being visually unappealing in their neighborhood. XWARN is continuing to work with the City of Xenia to makes changes to its Zoning Ordinances around such antennas. Unlike other cities in the county, like Beavercreek who recently made their ordinances more accommodating, the City of Xenia has been slower to respond with permanent fixes to their Zoning Ordinances. They await current bills in the State of Ohio legislation that will in fact force changes in local ordinance to better accommodate Amateur Radio. If these Bills do not pass at the State level, it is unclear what Xenia City Leaders will do to better support Amateur Radio.
This negative reaction to Amateur Radio is not new, in fact The National Association for Amateur Radio (ARRL) provides legal, engineering, and other professional services as they promote and defend its members from restrictive zoning ordinances throughout the country. In an effort to continue to promote, educate, & talk with the public, XWARN, along with the ARRL and Amateur Radios operators across the country will take part in an Annual Field Exercise on June 26, 2010. They will set-up equipment and participate in this national event to train for 24 hour emergency operations & promote Amateur Radio by demonstrating their abilities to the public.
In Xenia, XWARN will have their CST at the Greene County Recreation Park, located between the County Pool and Fairgrounds, on Fairgrounds Road. They invite everyone, of all ages, to come out and learn and take part in the event. Similar groups will also be set-up throughout the county in Fairborn, Bellbrook, and at Wright State University.