I created this web page, not as much for you as for me. I wanted a place to store all my ham radio information, links, etc. This page is the result of my selfish effort. But, isn’t that the essence of the web – to share information?

Feel free to explore, comment and link to this blog. Or, better yet, contribute something!

Monday, March 4, 2013

EmComm - The Prime Directive

It has been said many times in many places, but it bears repeating, the essence of amateur radio is emergency communications. Let’s quote from the FCC Rules, Part 97,

§ 97.1 Basis and purpose.
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles: 
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications. 

Couldn't be clearer, the Prime Directive for the Amateur Radio Service is emergency communications, EmComm. And, amateur radio has a proud history of serving the public in times of crisis. It is not necessary to recount all the times that ham radio has been a vital part of emergency response; it is so common as to be in danger of being taken for granted.

The question is, what are you doing to support the Prime Directive? Checking into weekly traffic nets is a good start, but there is far more you can do to support the cause.

What can you do?

For starters, make a plan. You should look at emcomm from two perspectives - as a giver of aid and as one affected by a disaster. Every ham has the potential to play either of these roles. A situation in a nearby community might need your support. You might be called on to go into the area and help with communications, or you might be asked to handle traffic or provide situation awareness information from your home.

Either way, you need to plan ahead. Pack a Go Bag, loaded with the things you might need. Don't wait until a disaster hits, do it now! Remember to pack not only radio gear you will need, but also things for your own sustenance.  I will detail my own plan in a future blog, but most of it is common sense. Just remember, you might find yourself in a situation where you need to be able to operate for 24-48 hours without outside aid. Hint, get, or make, some MREs.

Next, get your act together for when you might find yourself in a situation. Is your shack capable of operating without commercial AC? What about antennas? If your tower goes down, can you get back on the air? Make yourself some wire antennas - a VHF/UHF twin lead J-Pole can be very valuable and a G5RV for hf all wound up, ready for action, could be life-savers.

I will cover these topics in detail in future blogs, but don't wait on me, or anyone else for that matter. Get planning and acting now and you will be on the way to fulfilling the Prime Directive.

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