Two members of the Queen Creek West Stake—Dennis Lawrence and Joe Sammartino—have recently been making waves—waves of the extremely positive sort, with important ripple effects.
Both are amateur radio operators, both members of the Queen Creek Amateur Radio Club and the Town of Queen Creek Volunteer Emergency Communications Group.
The last Saturday in June, with 45,000 other amateur radio operators from the United States and Canada, they participated in the most popular on-the-air-exercise, the annual Amateur Radio Field Day.
This summer, they also helped more than 100 members of the Queen Creek West Stake—including the stake presidency, President Gary Smith and his counselors Joel Beckstead and Jason Filley—get the training, equipment and licensing they needed to become amateur radio operators.
“We may be the only stake presidency in the Church to be radio licensed,” says Brother Filley.
Brother Lawrence, of the Remington Heights Ward, says he got his amateur radio license about three years ago, before the Queen Creek West Stake was created when he was a member of the Queen Creek North Stake.
“President Smith had worked with the town to help establish an emergency communications group as part of our stake emergency response plan,” Brother Lawrence says. He adds, “In every emergency, the first thing that goes is the cell phone; but ham radio is always going to be there,” Brother Lawrence says.
So, during an emergency, while the town’s emergency response teams take care of transportation, medical and other needs, the radio-equipped, all-volunteer Emergency Communications Group is set up to take care of communications.
“We use these same skills to help with events, such as marathons and bike-a-thons, parades and exhibits at fairs, malls and museums—and other large, preplanned, non-emergency activities,” Brother Lawrence says.
Brother Filley says, as part of the stake’s emergency preparation efforts, “We would like every family in our stake to be radio trained and licensed.”
The stake saw this summer’s youth trek as a way to move closer to that.
“We decided to use the trek as an opportunity to get several members licensed in ham radio,” says Brother Filley.
“What they wanted to do was to have a level of communication for the trek that people had never experienced before,” says Brother Lawrence. He and Brother Sammartino, of the Cortina 4th Ward, were called to put a plan in place.
“The Mas and Pas and other trek staff bought radios, attended training classes, and we got more than 100 stake members licensed in amateur radio,” says Brother Lawrence.
The radios were invaluable during the trek as they were able to communicate about medical needs and required logistics changes due to the weather.
Brother Lawrence and Sammartino have ongoing training meetings, and every Sunday night they conduct a training net, meaning, “Everyone gets on the radio and checks in,” says Brother Lawrence. They also conduct drills periodically to help radio operators maintain their skills.
Anyone interested in learning more about amateur radio can contact Dennis Lawrence at KF7RYX@gmail.com.