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Jul 21

Written by: Paul McLane
7/21/2014 12:16 PM 


Paul McLane is editor in chief.


It’s nice to see federal authorities taking explicit note of the role of ham radio in times of disaster, and even nicer to see the government building upon that.

Amateur radio proponents have long emphasized their service’s role in emergencies and their relationships with emergency and government authorities. Now FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency that is part of the Department of Homeland Security, has signed a memo of understanding with the American Radio Relay League to increase their cooperation.

“This agreement will allow FEMA and ARRL to work together to provide resources, services and personnel, as available, in order to strengthen capacity in areas of emergency communications, mass care and emergency assistance, disaster preparedness, response and recovery, while also raising public awareness about the use of Amateur Radio as a public safety resource,” they said in a statement.

Echoing a theme that Radio World readers know well, the announcement quoted FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate calling radio “one of the most resilient communications technologies we have.” He continued: “When the power is out and telecommunications are down, the amateur radio community can serve as a vital resource in support of emergency responders and survivors during a disaster.”

They said their memo outlines ways in which the two organizations will cooperate to carry out their responsibilities, “with respect to disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery operations in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.”

Fugate and ARRL President Kay Craigie — both of whom are hams — signed the memo during the ARRL National Centennial Convention in Connecticut.

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9 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Hams and Uncle Sam Grow Closer

I think that it is about time for the "hams" to be officially involved in restoring communications during an emergency. Look at the record showing how fast they had some communications operating during outages in the past.

By Jim Wulliman on   7/22/2014 11:18 AM
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Re: Hams and Uncle Sam Grow Closer

I think that the hams have been able to restore communications during outages in the past, before the commercial facilities. We should have invited them to be a part of the planning years ago.

By Jim Wulliman on   7/22/2014 11:18 AM
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Re: Hams and Uncle Sam Grow Closer

In many places, we are part of the planning. Each state and local jurisdiction is different, and sadly, hams aren't always that realistic in dealing with government. So the degree to which we are involved can vary considerably. But FEMA has reached out quite a bit over the past few years. Really good to see it formalized.

By John McDonough on   7/22/2014 1:12 PM
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Re: Hams and Uncle Sam Grow Closer

Between DC-powered radios (often several, sometimes dozens), batteries, generators, automobile 12v, even solar panels, ability to make effective antennas from a bit of wire, it's difficult to see how the typical Ham radio operator could possibly be knocked off the air for very long. Under any circumstances. At the very least, providing a communications link from their neighborhood out into the wider world.

By J. Harvey on   7/22/2014 1:12 PM
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Re: Hams and Uncle Sam Grow Closer

It's good to see that something formal is in the works. It has been long known that Amateur Radio Operators can get the word out fast(without any red tape). I see this as a very good stepping stone for both sides. If FEMA gets behind this, maybe local government agencies will take note and see how the "hams" can be beneficial in those times. We have monitored Skywarn traffic for a number of years at our facilities to gather information quickly. '73

By Ken Myers - W0THI on   7/22/2014 4:16 PM
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Re: Hams and Uncle Sam Grow Closer

Amateur Radio works in the aftermath of an emergency precisely because it's so decentralized. I'm a little concerned that closer cooperation with government brings bureaucratic problems to Amateur Radio. For example, it takes days to clear debris from roads and inspect bridges so large FEMA trucks can get into the disaster area. Local hams driving relatively light weight passenger cars and light trucks, armed with local knowledge and very flexible communications systems, can physically get where needed and establish communication for health and welfare traffic. Hams help most by helping survivors get in touch with family members when normal means of communication are not working. Would be a shame if the ham response was slowed down to the speed of government.

By George B on   7/23/2014 9:41 AM
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Re: Hams and Uncle Sam Grow Closer

Government and Ham Radio operators! Can you imagine a more inept pairing?

By Mike whatley on   7/23/2014 9:41 AM
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Re: Hams and Uncle Sam Grow Closer

Yes this is great news! I work for DHS in the Continuity (COOP) and Disaster Recovery/Response fields. In my line of work I'm part of the DHS SHARES program and a MARS member. It's about time all of this came together so that it can prove it's worth. FEMA and DHS are what they are, government programs, and sometimes it takes a while to get assets to the stricken area just due the complexity of a large government entity . Ham operators on the other hand are usually in the area by-residence and provide vital communications capabilities immediately after and many times during the actual event. This can only benefit operations in emergencies as long as we coordinate prior.

73

By Jack (K4PIH) on   7/23/2014 1:27 PM
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Re: Hams and Uncle Sam Grow Closer

The only reason I got into ham radio was so i could join an emergency response group like ARES ( amateur radio emergency service ) and run strobe lights on my car and carry a firearm. ARES and the ARRL had made my dream of being a first responder come true. I passed the 35 question multiple choice test, paid my $50 fee to the ARRL and am now running to accidents, fires, you name it. GO ARES !

By Wllliam Wacker on   7/24/2014 11:02 AM

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