September 2015 AARC Public Service Wrap-up

Barring a last minute unforeseen event, the 2015 calendar of Public Service has concluded, and here is a summary of our Public Service efforts this season.

We had 8 officially scheduled events this year:

  • Jefferson Cup Bike Races
  • Miller School Bike Races
  • MS150 Tour de Vine Day 1
  • MS150 Tour de Vine Day 2
  • Jefferson Sprint Triathlon
  • Wisdom Oak Winery Triathlon
  • Boy’s and Girl’s Club Cycling Challenge
  • Gran Fondo Bike Race


In addition to these eight AARC events, AARC members also participated in one or more of six additional events in the central Virginia area.

  • Monticello Man Triathlon
  • Bel Monte Endurance Run
  • Devil’s Backbone Mountain Cross – Spring
  • Mountain Mama Bike Tour
  • Devil’s Backbone Mountain Cross, – Fall
  • Tour de Greene



The eight AARC events averaged 11.5 participants/event, and included a total of 30 different amateurs, 3 of whom are Central Virginia Repeater Association members and not members of the AARC.  Since CVRA members are covered by the CVRA Liability policy, they are welcome d participants in AARC organized events.

Of those who participating in AARC events (the  only events for which I have data), 7 people worked a single event, 6 worked 2 events, 6 worked 3 events, 5 people worked 4, 3 people worked 5 events, and 2 of our rock stars worked 6 events each.

To estimate the effect of our effort as a value added to our PS events, it is necessary to make some guesstimates and estimates.  My calculations are based on an average of 9 hours/volunteer/event, meaning we collectively provided 829 person hours of volunteer time this season.  At $19/hour the value that ARRL assigns to our service, our time represents a value of $15,732.  I assign a value of $300 per volunteer to represent an average value of equipment used by each volunteer.  The 30 volunteers participating this season thus bring an aggregate value of $9,000 in equipment to our season.   At least 4 different repeaters were used to support our events; I assign a value of $3,000 to each repeater, adding another $12,000 to our contribution.  At this point, the AARC Public Service activities account for a contribution of almost $37,000 for 2015.

One final figure that I have never been able to work into this calculation is vehicle expense.  Many of our volunteers use their personal vehicles and pay for their own vehicle expense for each of these events, which in some cases can add up to hundreds of miles per event.  I leave the estimate of that value up to the individual, but I am sure that we are not talking about an insignificant sum.

AARC Public Service accomplishes a number of objectives and not necessarily listed in order of importance.

1.) PS events are good real world exercises in emergency communications, as they provide opportunities to hone our skills.  You will quickly discover if you don’t have a repeater programmed correctly, you will quickly have a real-world test of your antenna; you will improve your communication skills over the air, all important consequences of your participation.

2.)  PS events give you a reality check on your level of preparedness in all aspects of emergency communication support.  I expect to see bobbles in the field in support of PS events.   If there are no “oh-crap” moments, then we aren’t going to learn anything from the day.

3.) PS events are the single most important activity that exposes members of the general public to the capabilities of ham radio and also of ham radio operators.  Hands down, no exception, one PS event is more important than all the other public events of the year.

4.) PS events are just plain fun.  If you don’t have fun, that is a failure on my part.  If you don’t learn something valuable from the day, that makes you a better prepared and more capable field operator, then the failure is on us all.

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