EMERGENCY RESPONSE IN THE COMMUNITY
Amateur Radio has consistently been the most reliable means of communications when other systems have failed. Hams work closely with disaster relief agency officials from FEMA, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other response organizations to offer wireless communications aid. From wildfires and earthquakes to marathons and road races, when getting the message through is critical, ham radio works.
Ham radio operators come in all ages and from all lifestyles, and are essentially neighbors in the community. Each licensee has passed one or more extensive knowledge tests covering a multitude of topics, including FCC rules, operator and station license responsibilities, operating procedures and practices, radio propagation, electrical principles and electronic circuits, common transmitter and receiver problems, antenna measurements and troubleshooting, basic repair and testing, non-voice communications, antennas and feed lines, AC power circuits, and safety.
Since ham radio is their hobby, many hams have decades of radio communications experience. Some may have professional broadcasting experience, and others may be current/former first responders. In standards that have arisen with the introduction of the National Incident Management System, ARES and RACES members may also:
- Be registered emergency/disaster workers under state law;
- Possess certificates for (sometimes many) FEMA training classes;
- Have passed law enforcement background checks; and
- May be engaged in other volunteer activities such as Search and Rescue (SAR) or Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT).