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posted Sep 23, 2012, 1:04 PM by Tommy Williams

How does Amateur Radio help in Emergencies, Disasters, and Public Service?

    Amateur Radio operators set up and operate organized communications for government and emergency officials as well as non-commercial communication for private citizens affected by emergencies or disasters. Sometimes during disasters radio frequencies are not coordinated among relief officials and Amateur Radio Operators are able to step in and volunteer to coordinate communications when official infrastructure is damaged or unavailable. Amateur Radio is recognized by several national organizations, and in some cases have formal agreements with Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) or similar Amateur Radio Organizations. Several of these are:

  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • National Communications System
  • Salvation Army
  • National Weather Service
  • Association of Public Safety Communications Officials

    Amateurs are able to provide communication into and out of disaster areas for non-commercial purposes (This is what the "Amateur" part of Amateur Radio means, but more on that sometime later). Government officials will rely upon available Amateurs to establish communications in to, out of, and within an area. This could range from passing emergency communication needs (fire and medical teams), requests for law enforcement or even disaster relief teams. When cell phones or land lines are not operational, it is impossible to get through to loved ones or friends in these areas, but the use of Amateur Radio allows for short messages to be delivered. Though this depends on the communication needs of officials, any localized infrastructure outages or physical road blockages. To that end the messages could take quite some time to reach its intended destination.

    Often community events rely on Amateur Radio Operators to handle communications of various types and importance during the event. Bike-a-thons, Charity walks, Parades and so on. Those responsible for organizing the event are able to identify the need for communications beyond cellular phones, Family Radios, and contact local Amateur Radio clubs asking for assistance with event communication.