The Anchorage ARC VEC continues to hit new highs as it seeks to help those unable to take their amateur radio license examinations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since opening up remote testing to anyone on March 16, 2020, the Anchorage ARC VEC has received 315 requests for remote examinations from 44 states, as well as requests from U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, Antarctica, Djibouti, Germany, Jordan, Kuwait, and Spain. To date, 157 remote examinations have been administered by Volunteer Examiners (VEs) located in Alaska, Oregon, California, Colorado, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maine, and even in New Brunswick, Canada.
The Anchorage ARC VEC relies on proctors at each test site to be their trusted agents. These proctors are nominated by the examinees. They must meet stringent eligibility requirements, must provide satisfactory identification documents, complete an application/agreement, and are ultimately carefully vetted by the Anchorage ARC VEC staff. During examination sessions, proctors help with positive identification of the examinees, suitability of the testing venues, and monitor all areas out of view of each examinee’s PC webcam. The proctors are the VEs eyes and ears for what is going on off-camera to help ensure that compliance is with Part 97 is maintained during the examination. This being said, the team stresses the importance of following COVID-19 protocols as is required at the examinee/proctor location.
Examinations are administered via a web-based testing platform. The platform renders one-time use unique examinations, scores those examinations, and streams the examinee’s video and audio live back to each of the VEs monitoring the session. The video/audio feed is also recorded and becomes part of the examination record, and can be reviewed easily if examination anomalies are suspected.
The Anchorage ARC VEC is unique in that they are able to completely process examination results immediately following the examination and typically file electronically with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) within minutes of examination completion. For examinations administered during the workweek, most examinees have their new callsign or upgrade completely processed by the FCC within an hour after they finish their test. If the examination is taken on the weekend, they must wait until 0800 Eastern Time on the following Monday morning for the FCC to complete processing of their application because the FCC does not process from about midnight on Friday through 0800 Monday morning. Each examinee receives an electronically completed and signed Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) as soon as the session VEs complete the electronic paperwork for their records.
The Anchorage ARC VEC team is proud of their accomplishments, and are especially enthusiastic about supporting our men and women overseas. But mostly, they are humbled by the gratitude of those we’ve helped license and upgrade during the pandemic. And so this mission continues….