How many times have you heard that? The inference being that Amateur Radio is there as a last, stop gap measure when all other communications fail. Many ..... MANY, are quick to snort and chuckle under their breath.
"With today's technology - cell phones, satellite phones, the Internet, etc, etc, etc - there's NO need for Amateur Radio as a last measure. It's just a hobby for old men that has outlived its usefulness." Sadly enough, I've heard that uttered by some within our own ranks.
After reading the July 2011 issue of CQ magazine, I wouldn't go putting all my eggs into the "outlived its usefulness" basket. Not just yet.
On page 13 begins an article, six pages long, by Richard Fisher KI6SN entitled "Radio Amateurs Face Wrath of Tornadoes Head-On". It's a very good read, worthy of your time and effort. If you don't get CQ, it's worth the trip to the local newsstand or book store.
When a series of tornadoes hit the Southern states this past Spring, in some cases Amateur Radio WAS all there was until emergency communications could be restored. In some cases, it was Amateur Radio Ops who helped restore those affected communications channels.
The point is, there is a reason the FCC titles the rules governing Amateur Radio "Part 97 - AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE". That's what we are, bottom line. When push comes to shove, and work or communications needs to get done, many times you'll see a brother or sister Amateur Radio Op in the fray, volunteering their time and talent (gratis), doing what needs to get done.
Whether it's with CERT, or helping to provide disaster relief or passing emergency traffic, being a storm spotter for SkyWarn, or helping in a search and rescue, or helping out in an emergency shelter, or even helping provide communications for your local parade, walk-a-thon, or 5K run .... often you'll find a Ham ready, willing and eager to lend a hand. And don't think for a second that it's not noticed and not appreciated.
I was surprised to read a "Letter to the Editor" in our little town paper a week ago. The letter was from one of the Lieutenants of our Police Dept. In the letter, he publicly thanked the town's CERT and ARES/RACES operators (by name) for assistance given within the last month. We're always thanked for our efforts but the public letter was not expected, by any means; and it sure was appreciated. We're not out there to be Police Officers, Firefighters or EMS personnel. We're out there to do what we can so that the professionals can be free to be placed where they can best do their jobs!
Now ...... to keep this QRP related (somehow). Take a good look at the cover of said July 2011 edition of CQ. The cover photograph is of Lloyd Barnett W4RFZ, Control Op for the Tornado Net in Alabama. Not that he uses them for his net operations, but in his hands he's holding a Tuna Tin II and a Herring Aid 5 receiver. See? You'll find QRPers just about everywhere.
"They're everywhere! They're everywhere! They're everywhere!"
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!