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Hams and Uncle Sam Grow Closer

Memo aims to increase cooperation

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.