The Bedford Amateur Radio Club (BARC) is a group of approximately 50 licensed amateur radio operators who work together to provide emergency (and other) communications support to the citizens of Bedford and Tarrant County. BARC, working with the Bedford Office of Emergency Management, in conjunction with the support of the Bedford Fire Department, have joined together in partnership to assure emergency communications is available during severe weather and other critical incidents. Members of the BARC have set their standards high by training many hours in an effort to provide communications that is not only efficient, but contributes greatly to the safety of all the people in the area. Many BARC members are also members of the Tarrant County Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES), a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sanctioned emergency radio service activated during disaster situations; to participate, members must have completed additional FEMA training and have met all requirements for the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Spotter program.
The ability to communicate during critical times is paramount to reduce loss of life and property. In most cases, firefighters and police officers are extremely busy during disaster events responding to emergency calls. In addition, many traditional forms of communications (e.g., cell phones, public service radios, etc.) are adversely impacted during these incidents. It is during these times that the Amateur Radio community steps up to augment emergency communications by providing many voice and data services using amateur radio technologies. These men and women, often called ‘Hams’, unselfishly volunteer their time and personal equipment to provide these services to their community.
BARC (FCC radio call sign K5BED), currently operates using the N5VAV repeater as our default (442.825 MHz, P/L tone 110.9 Hz, located on the radio tower at the Central Fire Station) and is an active participant in Tarrant County RACES operations. The primary activity in this area is to staff the amateur radios in the Bedford Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and to deploy storm spotters (individuals trained to observe and report potential severe weather activity (what the NWS refers to as ‘ground truth)). This information enables the NWS to make more informed decision in issuing severe weather warnings.
BARC members also participate in many other non-emergency activities such as:
· Observation of the outdoor warning sirens during each monthly test
· Public Service events both in Bedford and in other cities in Tarrant County such as the Cowtown Marathon, other 5K and 10K races, Bicycle races, Fire and Police Department Open House, etc.
· Support for testing emergency backup communications for THR HEB hospital
· Participation in other Bedford based volunteer organizations such as the Bedford Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) by providing augmentation of emergency communications between teams, their command, and the Bedford EOC. Part of this participation includes maintaining the radio equipment in the CERT mobile communications vehicle (nicknamed ‘Flipper’).
· Support for volunteer communications for the Northeast Tarrant and Denton County Child Abduction Response Team (CART), a group of law enforcement individuals specifically trained to handle Amber Alerts (child abductions) and Silver Alerts (missing elderly citizens).
· Working with other area amateur radio clubs to share information and to better facilitate communications across city boundaries if needed.
· Participating in the annual American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Field Day event where amateur radio operators across the nation set up radio stations (again using their own equipment) and participate in a contest to see how many other stations nationwide they can contact. Although this is only a contest, it enables the participants to test the operation of their equipment as well as providing actual hands-on experience in long distance communications. For the past few years, BARC set up operations outside the Bedford LEC.
BARC members meet on the third Saturday of each month at 9:00 AM at the Central Fire Station, 1816 Bedford Road (backup meeting location is the Bedford Law Enforcement Center (LEC) at 2121 L Don Dodson Dr.