In 1993, 35 hams met at the King George V hall on Duckworth Street, St. John’s to discuss the formation of a new local club. The club would be independent and get as close as it could to the pure fun of being hams: talking about ham radio gear, playing with gear and starting up some involvement in the community with public service and emergency communications.Around that time, there was a serious fire on Harvey Road in St. John’s. The local Canadian Red Cross tried to provide basic assistance to 100 evacuees, but it had to use runners to and from their headquarters, as the charity had no communications. After the fire experience, Red Cross recruited amateur radio operators to help in St. John’s as many other outlets do across North America.
The Red Cross asked us if we would be willing to provide emergency communications. They would provide us with a place to meet, install a radio shack and even throw in some coffee. After furiously debating this (for about 20 seconds) AVRAC said YES!
Saying “yes” more than fulfilled any desire we had to get into public service communications. AVRAC has participated in numerous exercises with the Red Cross and many call-outs for fires, charity runs and walks, etc. Some of our hams are very active in the Red Cross and have international emergency experience. Every year, at the Royal St. John’s Regatta we do communications for the Red Cross lost and found for missing children. This is a huge annual event and involves our members in extensive contact with and service to the public.
With our experience and reputation, we have expanded our horizons in emergency communications. The City of St. John’s has written us into its emergency plan and we have Amateur VHF and UHF as well as commercial VHF capabilities at the City’s Emergency Operations Center (Callsign: VO1EOC) located in the central fire station. We were also instrumental in the formation of the first active ARES group in the province.
AVRAC holds monthly meetings to discuss the latest activities and events, as well as emergency preparedness measures related to the Red Cross or inclement weather forecasts. Of course there is also much amateur radio talk and story-swapping!
Hams and non-hams alike are invited to come to the meetings. Have an interest in radio? Join us!
Meetings take place on the third (3rd) Wednesday of each month at:
Canadian Red Cross building
17 Major's Path
St. John's, NL
Time: 8:00pm (Local time)
Typically AVRAC does not meet in the month of December, but holiday get-togethers are likely!
AVRAC typically holds its annual general meeting (AGM) during the regular monthly meeting in either January or February. At this time the club executive is elected. Members in good standing are eligible to vote and run as a candidate for each position.
The Avalon Radio Amateurs Club helps to establish communication links between the Canadian Red Cross and its many volunteers during emergencies and other significant events. AVRAC members attend numerous training exercises designed to sharpen communication skills, interoperability, and discover where improvements can be made. In addition to attending training exercises some of our members host sessions to help train Red Cross staff members and its volunteers to properly use the organization's portable radio equipment.
AVRAC members also volunteer their time to help with Operation Lost & Found, a service provided by the St. John's branch of the Canadian Red Cross to help reunite missing children with their parents during the Royal St. John's Annual Regatta.
The club also assists in outfitting the local Red Cross's Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) with communications equipment.
Our members mainly live in the area of the North-east Avalon of Newfoundland, but we do have members and friends that drop by from other parts of the world.
Want to be a member of AVRAC? Don't worry if you don't have an amateur radio license! If you have any interest in emergency preparedness, weather, radios (portable, mobile, scanners, or otherwise), or just technology in general, we'd love to have you join us. Contact us using the following form, or simply drop in to our next meeting and introduce yourself.
AVRAC asks for a small fee of $20 per year as the cost of membership. While the club has few expenses, the membership fees help take care of social activities (e.g. food & drink at Field Day) and prizes throughout the year.