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Amateur (HAM) Radio Operators Expand Emergency Capabilities


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Page by:
KCØLWV (General)
Gladstone, MO
 








Public Safety Bulletin
From the EMCOM Emergency Network Control Center
Click on this text to proceed to a page everyone should bookmark both at home and at work.
It allows public access to an international database for locating persons involved in or displaced by emergencies/disasters. You may need this reference to seek family/friends in a future emergency.

Amateur (HAM) Radio is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts world-wide, and can be an extremely fulfilling hobby. Ranging in age from pre-teens into centurians, they take to the airwaves to expand their knowledge of the technology, and to make new friends.

But for many years, ham operators have also performed a critical public service for their communities during emergencies and disasters. Oftentimes the only communications available during such times are the radios of dedicated ham operators who provide emergency communications ranging from situation and/or damage reports, to helping coordinate rescue efforts, to relaying emergency messages from victims or displaced persons in the affected area to their worried family members. They have developed their own organizations and networks that provide training and coordination for these services in time of need.

During and after the 9/11 tragedy, America realized that there was even more needs in relation to Emergency Preparedness. Two of the most important needs defined by both the public and government were:
  • Preparedness Coordinators in every neighborhood to coordinate the preparedness of that community and,
  • An integrated methodology for the public to both learn about status and location of their loved ones, and/or to post "watch" type bulletins to both seek their family members, and to help provide identification and critical health information that may be essential to medical personnel treating them.

Coordinating and communicating with such a network of people would be a daunting task; however, having developed systems for commercial entities that provided for the unique capabilities that would be required, we decided to build and sponsor the system within our own company. These systems are the EMCOM nationwide network of neighborhood based Community Preparedness Coordinators, and the Emergency Victim Locator.

Immediately the systems began to draw participation from all types of people, from housewives to ex-military survival instructors, to ex-FEMA personnel and government Emergency Management personnel with years of experience....
and not surprisingly, by amateur radio operators (hams).

Always at the ready to serve their communities, they began contacting us about participation. Some wanted to become Community Coordinators to become more involved in their neighborhoods in emergency preparation. Others were already involved in amateur emergency programs such as ARES and RACES, but saw the opportunity to expand their reach and participation by combining their emergency message relay with the Emergency Victim Locator. While they will continue to relay messages, they often find that the person they are seeking to notify is difficult to locate. While they will continue to attempt to reach these persons, they wanted to be able to enter emergency personal status/location information into the EVL system both as another means of contacting a primary emergency contact, plus provide a means for other family members around the world to learn about their loved one. Obviously we make that capability available to any ham that wishes to participate.

We also encourage all of our Community Coordinators to look into becoming amateur radio operators, and joining the ARES organization under the Emergency Coordinator in their area. Doing so will allow them the ability to have back-up radio communications to relay emergency information from their neighborhood when primary communications are down; a capability that can easily be the difference between life and death in disaster situations. Even if they don't have the time or inclination to participate in one of the amateur programs, it still offers an important communications methodology for reaching help through these organizations.

















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