The annual exercise is one facet of activities Amateur Radio operators undergo to ensure they will be ready to volunteer their assistance with communications during disasters and emergencies. Field Day is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL)- the national association for Amateur Radio.
Field Day was designed to test operators' abilities to set up and operate portable stations under emergency conditions such as the loss of electricity. Not only is this event a serious test of skill, for many clubs and groups it's a social occasion too. During the weekend, participants try to contact as many other participating Field Day stations as possible.
Approximately 35,000 Amateur Radio operators participated in last year's Field Day. The first Field Day was held in 1933.
During emergencies and disasters such as tornados, earthquakes and fires, ham radio operators regularly volunteer to support governmental and non-governmental organizations such as the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army, with communications assistance and other help. But the need for their services doesn't stop there. In September 2003, ARRL was awarded a second year of federal funding for emergency communications training, emphasizing support for ham radio's role in homeland defense and its vital contributions to localities.
Today there are nearly 700,000 Amateur Radio operators in the United States and more than 2.5 million worldwide.
- From an ARRL Press Release