Emergency Communications Preparedness

Attention Folks! This ARRL Letter gives emphasis to a number of vulnerabilities that most people share, the inavailability of an extreme emergency communication capability. While many are “wrapped around the axle” with cellular technology, they may be forgetting not only about coverage “dead spots” but, most especially, about how cellular became essentially unusable just after the 9/11 event for many reasons including the calling log-jam that exceeded traffic handling capabilities.

Additionally, complicating matters in a severe power-down scenario, cellular towers have a limited power backup capability:

“[T]he FCC imposes ‘specific mandates’ on wireless carriers including ‘backup electric power at most cell sites.’ Therefore, cell towers typically have battery backup arrangements that support operations for TWO TO FOUR HOURS, depending upon call traffic.” [emphasis added] (source: http://www.ehow.com/about_5397187_do-phones-work-power-outages.html)

One may want to strongly consider amateur radio as a key part of their communications planning. With today’s technology, one may acquire a good, hand-held radio for under $50. Also, the extensive networking of radio repeaters, their much more robust power backup capabilities, the ability to talk directly, radio to radio, the ability to link real-time GPS data to mobile mounted radios, the license exam fee of only $16.00, and a plethora of excellent free license study programs via the Internet all argue strongly in favor of adopting the “hobby.” Oh! And no monthly subscription costs either!

The story within this attached letter offers an excellent example of the extreme value of being prepared with the right communications abiity. http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter?issue=2013-11-07