A few years back I wanted to get a better understanding of various types of special event support and what role amateur radio played in those events. So in the course of a year I participated in 10 events. The following is some lessons I learned either myself, or observing other operators.
1- Never leave your HT battery engaged in your go bag. Gremlins will climb it and turn on your radio.
2- Guy your antenna mast FIRST, THEN mount the antenna. Not the reverse.
3- If using a computer, turn it on before it gets cold and don’t let it go to sleep. Equipment gets brittle in the cold.
4- Spare hardware is only .97 cents a bag at Home Depot but priceless in the wilderness when you drop one.
5- If your radio is not programmed to event frequencies you are not prepared.
6- There is no such thing as enough adaptors and connectors.
7- You are not in college anymore, overnight shifts are not easy, know your limitations. Pace yourself it’s a marathon not a sprint.
8- Speaking of Marathons…. Be prepared at a marathon event to hand out more cups of water than keying your mic. You are an aid station volunteer that happens to have a radio.
9- If your children go with you on the event, your wife will count the day as a family time.
10- Always bring a comfortable chair.
11- Never leave your equipment in a open truck bed. It will rain.
12- If you are busy and overwhelmed with your assignment, don’t worry sheer boredom is around the corner.
13- The thought to stake down your easy up canopy should become BEFORE the big unexpected wind.
14- Never send an 5w HT to do a 50w Mobile’s Job.
15- Never underestimate the value of gloves you can write and operate a radio with.
16- Your sole purpose of volunteering is not to get a T-Shirt.
17- If you show up to an assignment right at start of shift you are late.
18- While huddled around a space heater at 3am to keep warm and you smell plastic burning…. it’s your HT.
19- Pack extra meals, you never know when your shift will be extended.
20- If something doesn’t work, try something different. If that does not work try something else different. If that does not work try the first thing again and it will most likely work. Creativity and Problem Solving is a valuable skill.