Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Experts at hamming it up

Radio operators have you covered

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They donate their skills in times of emergency and are always on the lookout for severe weather conditions, ready to relay information to the nearest weather office, but next weekend they will be busy supporting the community in a different way.

Members from the Winnipeg Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) will be one of six ham radio groups helping with the Manitoba Marathon.

With stations set up along the marathon route, and enough amateur radio operators (hams) to staff seven medical vehicles, ARES members volunteer their time to provide communication in the case of emergencies.

Using a high-tech network of radios, the hobbyists connect with emergency service personnel, paramedics and other marathon staff.

While most years there are few medical emergencies that happen during the marathon, Jeff Dovyak, emergency co-ordinator with ARES, said the potential is there for help to be required.

"It could turn into an emergency if it's particularly humid this year and it's hot. People have been training in relatively cool weather so the weather could be a big impact and we could have a lot of medical calls," explained Dovyak, who works as a radiation safety co-ordinator with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

A volunteer with ARES for the past 15 years, he said its members are adept at dealing with such emergencies. Less than two months ago, the group was heavily involved in the flood operations, working with both the City of Winnipeg Emergency Centre and the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization to provide radio communication services.

"I have an interest in helping the community. Amateur radio is afforded a lot of radio spectrum basically for free -- sort of an unspoken understanding the world over is for amateurs to get that radio spectrum to communicate and experiment with it. We'll then pay back our communities by doing public service," Dovyak said.

He adds that one of his most memorable moments from this year's flood was volunteering at the city's Operational Emergency Centre, communicating on the ham radio with his 19-year-old son -- also an ARES volunteer -- who was on site at Scotia Street, monitoring the flood situation.

For ARES member Geoff Bawden, a Manitoba government employee, amateur radio is a great hobby for people with all interests, whether it be in science, technology or volunteerism.

"I picked up on wanting to do amateur radio, as it's a good gig to do in retirement -- you can be any age and be a ham," Bawden said.

In addition to his work with ARES, Bawden is also president of the Winnipeg Amateur Radio Club, which partners with Red River College to offer a ham training course.

"It's a service to all the other hams and it's a service to Manitoba because ham radio is a community asset. It's a community service so we're proud to be helping to build hams," he said.

More information about the Winnipeg ARES can be found at If you have your amateur radio certification and would like more information about volunteering, contact Dovyak at or by leaving a message at 1-888-572-3960. If you would like more information about becoming a certified ham or the Red River College course, contact Bawden by calling 257-1414 or by emailing

If you know a volunteer who strives to make their community a better place to live contact Erin Madden at

A list of opportunities advertised in the Winnipeg area. For more information, please contact the person/organization directly. You may also call (204) 477-5180 ext. 221 to set up an appointment to see an interviewer at Volunteer Manitoba. E-mail: or visit our website: for other opportunities.

Employment Solutions for Immigrant Youth is looking for someone to provide assistance for its office mainly in data entry, document sorting, filing, greeting visitors/clients, etc. Call Debbie, 944-8833 or

Broadway Seniors Resource Council Inc. needs a volunteer escort to take a visually impaired senior woman to her doctor's office which is within walking distance of her home. Call Brenda, 772-3533 or

Manitoba Museum requires sales assistants to provide customer service including cash sales transactions, help with museum shop maintenance, restocking, inventory, etc. Call Noreen, 988-0633 or

Dialysis patients at Health Sciences Centre require volunteer ambassadors to spend time with the patients while they wait for treatment. The volunteer will be the liaison for the patient and staff by offering friendly conversation and support to the patients. Shift times available are Monday to Saturday. Call Sandy, 787-3533 or

Transcona Literacy Centre Inc. needs a treasurer, duties include receiving and depositing monies, keep full and accurate account of all receipts and disbursements of finances, create financial statements, etc. Call Karen, 224-9099 or

A volunteer is needed to read to a blind man with multiple sclerosis at Deer Lodge Centre once or twice a month for 30-45 minutes. Call Ellen, 988-0917 or

St. John Ambulance is looking for volunteer medical first responders. Volunteers provide medical services at community settings including public gatherings, sporting and recreational events, disaster or civil emergencies. Responders undergo a minimum 40 hours of training and are expected to provide 60 hours of community service per year. Call Christine, 784-7016, or

Assiniboine Park Riparian Forest Project is looking for volunteers to help with restoration. Activities include restoring the woodchip trail and tree plantings. Call Kristin, 986-7235 or

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 15, 2009 B2

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