Midwest City, Oklahoma’s fourth annual Veterans Day Parade for 2015 was a success, due in part to the communication support that Mid-Del Amateur Radio Club (MDARC) volunteers provided. Amateur Radio met communication needs at multiple staging areas, along the parade route, at the incident command post, and for the reviewing stand. Working closely with the City of Midwest City Emergency Management Office Communications Coordinator and the Midwest City police and fire departments, the ham volunteers were able to cover the large area and a parade route of about 2 miles. The Midwest City Communications Coordinator is Scott Walsh, N5NYS. The event featured a flyover by the War Birds, a vintage World War II aircraft group from Tulsa. Heading up the team of 17 volunteers was Donald Ohse, W5DRO, whose experience includes working with the city and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office as a volunteer.
“By using Amateur Radio, we were able to provide communications and resources that could commit to many areas that normally would not have been covered due to manpower constraints,” Ohse said. “For the past 3 years, we have been providing a radio amateur at the reviewing stand, where the emcee for the event is located, and we also place a spotter about 200 yards from the reviewing stand to communicate back to the reviewing stand if a parade participant is out of order,” he noted. “This was very helpful, so the emcee would not announce the wrong entry.”
Ohse said the parade’s multiple staging areas presented another challenge. Using several simplex frequencies, the ham volunteers were able to reduce radio traffic on the main public safety net frequency, leaving it available for more important uses. Volunteers working the staging areas must have dual-band radios, so they can monitor the public safety net while communicating within their assigned staging areas. Plans for next year include the use of Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) within the parade route, giving the incident command post a near real-time status of the parade route as it interfaces with traffic and transit for the parade participants.