For 24-hours, 34,000 members of the American Radio Relay League set up radio systems in a field environment and made contact with each other across the country. Over a dozen set up camp near Erwin Marina, testing out different radios and frequencies.

This might all look like fun and games, but these radio enthusiasts are contacting people from across the country with HAM radios.

It's mostly for fun, but this radio field day has a purpose too, and that's to keep everyone prepared in the event of a crisis. "It's designed to simulate disruption of communication. Basically, whether it's power, weather, overload of communication system due to disaster or emergency," said Barclay “Mac” Thomas, Vice President of Chattanooga Amateur Radio Club.

In an event like that, cell phones would be out of line. So these radios can be pulled in on a different frequency, to take their place. "If you think back to hurricane Rita and Katrina I believe it was three days the only info coming out was from people with two meter FM hand radios," said Thomas.

The messages received were then distributed to the local agencies, so help could be provided to wherever it's needed. "We can take the slack by relaying, generally non critical messages," said Thomas.

So you can see why in a time of crisis, communication is key. "We can often be the only links of communication," said Thomas.

For more information on the Chattanooga Amateur Radio Club and how you can get involved, Click here.