The lack of Amateur Radio utilization during emergencies in South Mississippi.

Posted on June 23, 2017
Filed Under Amateur Radio, Gulf Coast, Rants and Ramblings | Leave a Comment

Use Amateur Radio to improve public safety.

What exactly does Amateur Radio provide to local officials during emergencies that isn’t part of their communication infrastructure?

I live in Jackson County Mississippi.  Sure there are periodic *nets* where we check in….basically saying we’re here…  so what? I am not aware of *any* real coordinated effort to provide communication services to local officials during times of need. Most of those that check in…will be gone during a real emergency. Not that I blame them for that…evacuate if you need. No one wants to sit in a powerless house for two weeks.

In the past Amateurs may have gone (or still plan on going) to a shelter during a hurricane to provide local communications if needed. And that is actually important..

Is that a coordinated effort to meet a need of the local community? Anyone ask them?

But we can do so very much more for the community during these times of need.  And we can do most of them will only moderate cost, but perhaps a higher personal cost-with the payment in coin of dedication.

Perhaps our biggest failing is lack of interest or motivation.

We need to find out the local requirements for communications during these times that are not being met by current infrastructure…AND how we can not only meet those needs, but provide solutions to others when that infra-structure fails. If we can’t deliver on our promise next time we wont be asked..and worse possibly actively shunned.

Not only do we need to offer our services, we need to *demonstrate* to them what we can do. Our ability do do the job anytime, anywhere is paramount.

I think many just visualize Amateur Radio as just passing health and welfare messages from areas of little or no communication or to move that traffic off of existing overloaded infrastructure.  Of some operator sitting hunched over a table with radios and headphones on while  spouting numbers. We can…and should be doing much more and not just during emergencies.

Like what?

Perhaps sending video of specific areas of concern during special events to law enforcement?
Information on flooding in the local area to a central command post? A recently missed opportunity during TS Cindy!
Provide a *real* hi-speed mesh network in the area that doesn’t use the internet. This opens up a HUGE area of abilities we can provide.
Said network could be used to connect shelters, hospitals,Red Cross,EOC’s and much more.  Use different modes. SSB,CW,DIGITAL. Take advantage of the free software to provide these services over Amateur radio links.

Find out local needs and requirements from local officials.  Make them aware of what else we do that amateur radio offers. You might be surprised to find that they can actually USE these services. It’s up to us to show them that these services can be DEPENDED upon to be available.

A benefit to showing what can be done, and convincing others that we are useful is that perhaps local officials will assist amateurs in locating equipment where it will benefit them. Such as repeater locations, mesh network nodes on towers.  If we show them we will help them in public safety…they will help us do that job.

How can YOU help?  Get involved! If no group is available then form a new group, determine what your group can provide and offer your help.  If no one helps… nothing will get done.  Remember the famous quote  by John Lewis – “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

Training… There are at least two groups of amateurs nationwide with a sole purpose of Pubic Safety communications. RACES and ARES.

RACES – Certified and registered operators – managed by FEMA. (RACES stations may only communicate with specified stations)

ARES – Licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service. No specific requirements other than being licensed.

During large disasters such as hurricanes… RACES tends to be focused on due to the FEMA involvement.

We do not have to be RACES/ARES affiliated but we do have to be motivated,trained and available to help. More importantly we CAN be of actual help in these situations. We need to know where that help is needed before we can offer it. And we need training and practice to efficiently work with local public safety groups.

The days of sending just a radiogram format message are long gone. In the digital age we can send ANYTHING.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Field Day –

The ARRL organized Field Day in the last weekend of June is where ALL groups should be publicly demonstrating our abilities.

Many groups just try to score points by making the most contacts – but – this is a great time to show the world what we can do.
But you must:

a) Let the public know you’ll be doing it.
b) Rain or shine… DO IT.  If you can’t setup an operation with weeks of planning because of bad weather, how are you going to do it for real…
And MOST IMPORTANTLY
c)Get non-amateurs involved!!!!!

Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network logoJackson County Amateur Radio Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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