Probably the most important part of the Amateur Radio service is it’s involvement in Emergency Services. I’ve been involved in ES of some sort for a while now. I’ve used Amateur Radio to assist in the San Francisco earthquake of 1989, the Oakland Hills fire the following year, and with the various Amateur Radio clubs I’ve belonged to over the years. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to show up and and provide help at the very heart of an emergency.
Civil Air Patrol
I have participated in the Civil Air Patrol for more than a decade. The CAP’s main mission is emergency services, and radios were the main focus of our comms. I earned my advanced radio operator credential, and had the opportunity to participate in many SAREX training missions as a Communicator.
Here are some pics of the CAP in action.
Most all of our CAP buildings had several VHF, UHF and HF radios, along with several antennas strung up on the roof. During missions we did a lot of inter-agency work. Here’s a picture of the local Sheriff department taking their turn on radio watch:
Sometimes we’d get the big guns to stop by with their amazing mobile base station:
Amateur Radio Emergency Services
The Amateur service has several organic organizations that handle communications during actual emergencies:
- ARES: Amateur Radio Emergency Service, hosted by the ARRL
- RACES: Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services, organized by FEMA
- NTS: ARRL National Traffic System. Passes messages around the world via radio.
- MARS: Military Affiliate Radio Service. Works with the armed forces to pass radio traffic.
There are many other agencies who utilize Amateur Radio operators during emergencies.