Thursday, September 08, 2005

Public Service Radio

Since Katrina unleashed her wrath upon the Gulf states; there has been a lot of discussion on various Amateur Radio e-mail reflectors about the value of Ham Radio and emergency communications. This post is not intended to stir up any controversy or debate; it's purpose is, however, to get you to think.

We are ALL vulnerable to natural disaster, whether it be a hurricane on the south or east coasts. Blizzards in the temperature appropriate areas of our country, earthquakes and brush fires out west; flooding in the Midwest; or a tornado just about anywhere. When these things happen and devastation is widespread; your help is needed! We are seeing that this week more than ever.

Please consider volunteering your time and talents. There are many ways you can do this. Hook up with your local Office of Emergency Management and see if there is a CERT program (Community Emergency Response Team) in your area. If there is none; then maybe there's a ARES or RACES group in existence. Where these do not exist contact your local branch of the Red Cross or Salvation Army as both of these organizations have "letters of understanding" with many local Ham radio Emcomm groups.

The point is that Ham Radio is as valid and valuable as it has ever been. Maybe it's not done by Morse Code or maybe not even HF SSB anymore. Maybe it will all be done in your area with VHF/UHF FM communications or packet. Maybe Amateur Radio doesn't get the press that it deserves and maybe it's not as valued as it ought to be. But when all is said and done with Katrina, the stories WILL come out. You will hear instances of where communications systems failed and how Amateur Radio was the only way that rescues were performed, services delivered, families reunited. The ARRL had a slogan on their T-shirts for Field Day a few years ago, "Amateur Radio - When All Else Fails". That has never been more true.

But all that said, YOUR help is needed. Volunteer communicators are needed on a nationwide basis, starting with your own local communities. Get trained and be prepared. The best side benefit is that the knowledge you gain will not only help keep your community safe; but your own family safe as well. You folks who are into QRP and Homebrewing are among the most knowledgeable, brightest, most versatile, most adaptable, best trained Hams we have out there. You build, test and repair equipment. You set up and operate stations from fields, forests, oceansides, backyards, parking lots and even from inside EOCs. You are an asset to this country and its communities.

For more information about CERT - please visit:

73 de Larry W2LJ

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