Once again, this year we utilized field day as “Volunteer Santa Rosa Day.” We invite other volunteer organizations that support Santa Rosa County to share with the community what they do as well as recruit volunteers and network with the other organizations. We take the first 5 hours of field day as that event and our radio operators focus on connecting with the visitors, showing them Winlink, and helping them make a contact on our GOTA (Get on the Air) station.
We were able to secure the Santa Rosa County Fairgrounds and their horse arena, which is covered, so it protected us from the sun and potential rain. This location had plenty of room for antennas, indoor restrooms, and plenty of parking.
This was a milestone event for our team as our EC, Arc-W4CPD, was permitted to drive one of the county Emergency Management vehicles and tow the mobile command post ourselves. In the past, this had to be done by an Emergency Management staff member.
Another huge highlight of this year’s event was landing zone training presented by Shands UF Health. Through the relationship we’ve built over the years with Emergency Management, we were able to do this training along with have an actual live helicopter landing. Many of our ARES & CERT volunteers attended the training and it was a big hit with those in attendance.
This year United Way, RSVP of Santa Rosa County, Legal Services of NWFL, the Red Cross of NFL, and the Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter participated with information tables. We also had food vendors to ensure our volunteers and visitors didn’t go hungry. One of the additional things we do to give back to the community, but selfishly also get visitors, is we provide free meals for any first responders that visit. At one point we had 4 ambulances on site.
For actual field day operations, this year, we ran as a “3 Alpha” with all 3 stations setup in the county’s Mobile Command Post. Each year they graciously offer us the use of it and it certainly comes in handy in the hot Florida sun and heat. It’s also equipped with a 50’ pneumatic mast which is incredibly helpful in having a place to hang antennas. The trailer is equipped with a diesel generator allowing us to run completely on emergency power.