Emergency Communications Driving Increase in Amateur Radio Operators

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Echo Mike Two-Seven
#2
I can't say EMCOMM was my lure into the hobby, but I did register with my local ARES group after I earned my ticket. Since then I have come in contact with quite a few folks who's main interest is ARES type of communications.

However, I also think what has been driving up the numbers (and it seems the ARRL either refuses to acknowledge or at least in that "pro" ARES article) is the prepper movement.

I suspect despite what the ARRL would like to think, not a lot of those new license holders are registering with their local ARES groups, participating in local marathons, bike rides, storm spotting, etc, but instead just getting licensed so they can communicate during the zombie apocalypse :roll:

Not a prepper myself, but I often wonder, why bother getting a license if you are intent on being prepared for the end of the world? I doubt the FCC or anyone would care at that point if you decided to put an SOS out on a repeater, simplex or HF frequency anyway.
 
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#3
why bother getting a license if you are intent on being prepared for the end of the world? I doubt the FCC or anyone would care at that point if you decided to put an SOS out on a repeater, simplex or HF frequency anyway.


So would a prepped be content with purchasing a new rifle for the end of days and then not learning how to use it? (The answer is no, which is why they bother getting licensed).

Emergency communications wasn't what got me into the hobby either. It's actually something I have very little interest in compared to just building redundant, robust systems.


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#4
Emergency Comms

I have been with the Maritime Mobile Service Net <www.mmsn.org> since 2001. We do training for new net control stations. We were very active during Katrina and Haiti earthquake. We operate from 12pm to 10pm on 14.300 eastern time seven days a week. The net frequency is the center of emergency activity by a international treaty. We have SHARES Status. If another Katrina happens we can talk to every Gov. agency directly, without going through anybody else.
 

millrad

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#5
Yes, that article is pro ARES and by extension, pro ARRL. As much as I respect the League (I am an appointed PIO in the Connecticut Section) ARRL is also in business to maintain membership numbers and stay afloat financially. Pushing the EMCOMM angle is one way to do it, and I can't blame them. It also strikes me as sad that many of the new hams who enter the hobby for emergency comms will probably never advance beyond their Tech ticket and enjoy HF, where in my opinion, the real fun of the hobby is.
 

ko6jw_2

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#6
As a long time ARES member, an EC, a VE and a repeater trustee I find that emergency communications may motivate new hams, but they rarely are interested in joining an ARES group or ARRL or taking part in nets, drills and events. They are interested in emergency communications to keep in touch with family members or a church group, but not interested in public service.

I frequently hear, " I don't want to join ARES, but if something happens I'm available." That's not the way it works. They will not be trained, will not have disaster service certification and mostly don't know how to use their radios.

The number of ham radio licenses is supposed to reach 750,000 in 2017 (source ARRL). About 160,000 are members of ARRL. That means that only about 21% of hams are members and that is the pool of operators who may join ARES groups.

I had a friend who got very excited about ham radio when his house nearly burned down in a brush fire. His enthusiasm lasted about two days. So, yes, there is an uptick after a major disaster, but it usually doesn't stick.
 
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So would a prepped be content with purchasing a new rifle for the end of days and then not learning how to use it? (The answer is no, which is why they bother getting licensed).

Emergency communications wasn't what got me into the hobby either. It's actually something I have very little interest in compared to just building redundant, robust systems.


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Are you sure they are learning to use it?

From what I have seen, they buy a $35 Chicom, throw it in their "go" bag and they are done. Never hear them on the air or utilizing their radios on the amateur bands. IMHO, passing the Tech exam does not teach anyone how to "use" a radio.
 
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Yes, that article is pro ARES and by extension, pro ARRL. As much as I respect the League (I am an appointed PIO in the Connecticut Section) ARRL is also in business to maintain membership numbers and stay afloat financially. Pushing the EMCOMM angle is one way to do it, and I can't blame them. It also strikes me as sad that many of the new hams who enter the hobby for emergency comms will probably never advance beyond their Tech ticket and enjoy HF, where in my opinion, the real fun of the hobby is.
True. But what I have seen in the area north of me were my Club is located, many of the ARES members up ther are also local Club members as well. So, the Club's HF activities, such as QSO parties, special event stations and Field Day to name a few, helps recruit those folks that initially signed up for EMCOMM purposes to upgrade and enjoy the real fun.

I love HF, but with that said, I don't see nothing wrong with the folks that strictly only want to do EMCOMM. Everbody has their nitch, my only thing is I like everyone to be "active" hams. Wether its VHF/UHF or HF as long we are on the air the service will continue to thrive.

What good is it to have 700k plus hams if no one gets on the air?
 
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#9
The number of ham radio licenses is supposed to reach 750,000 in 2017 (source ARRL). About 160,000 are members of ARRL. That means that only about 21% of hams are members and that is the pool of operators who may join ARES groups.
Are you saying ARES members 'must' be ARRL members? I know you have to pay your $49 if you are given a title and allowed to buy a cool badge with appointed title. Any licensed operator may sign up free for ARES with no proof of skills, abilities, equipment, or training. Of course all are desired and some sections may require some (i.e. IS100, 700, etc.) in order to receive the coveted ARES member badge.

That $49 may be better spent by a new ham on a better radio or antenna.
 
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#10
As a long time ARES member, an EC, a VE and a repeater trustee I find that emergency communications may motivate new hams, but they rarely are interested in joining an ARES group or ARRL or taking part in nets, drills and events. They are interested in emergency communications to keep in touch with family members or a church group, but not interested in public service.

I frequently hear, " I don't want to join ARES, but if something happens I'm available." That's not the way it works. They will not be trained, will not have disaster service certification and mostly don't know how to use their radios.

The number of ham radio licenses is supposed to reach 750,000 in 2017 (source ARRL). About 160,000 are members of ARRL. That means that only about 21% of hams are members and that is the pool of operators who may join ARES groups.

I had a friend who got very excited about ham radio when his house nearly burned down in a brush fire. His enthusiasm lasted about two days. So, yes, there is an uptick after a major disaster, but it usually doesn't stick.
Yep. We kind of have the same issues. Just having good attendance at a monthly meeting can be a chore, let alone when it comes time to actually get out and provid comms for a run, bike ride or other event, very few actually want to participate. Is what it is, I guess.

At the end of the day we are all volunteers. I try and stay active by not only being registered in my home county group, but I also volunteer my time for events with an adjoining county's group who tend to be more active.
 

cengleman

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#11
I just wish more of the ARES / EMCOMM groups would regularly train on other types of communications instead of just focusing on Amateur Radio. I would rather have a group of guys that have a bit more technical knowledge than guys that just want to talk on the amateur bands.

Examples:
Install portable base 800mhz P25 radios
Run IP phone connections
Troubleshoot a radio console (both analog and digital)
Install a POTS line
Install a WIFI antenna
Cut whips for other bands
Maintain fixed/mobile satellite terminals
ETC

I am sure there are groups out there that do this...but they are few and far between. Become more of an asset to your served agencies and make yourselves more useful during a disaster.

CE
 

W9BU

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#12
Are you saying ARES members 'must' be ARRL members?
I can't speak for ko6jw, but as a former DEC, I think I can speak for ARES.

You do not need to be an ARRL member in order to be an ARES volunteer. From the ARRL web site:

Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization is eligible to apply for membership in ARES. Training may be required or desired to participate fully in ARES. Please inquire at the local level for specific information. Because ARES is an Amateur Radio program, only licensed radio amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.
In order to be an Emergency Coordinator, the first rung of ARES leadership and typically responsible for the ARES volunteers in a city or county, you must be an ARRL member.
 
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#13
I can't say EMCOMM was my lure into the hobby, but I did register with my local ARES group after I earned my ticket. Since then I have come in contact with quite a few folks who's main interest is ARES type of communications.
ARES was not my initial interest when I got into amatuer radio either. At about 9-10-ish, I ended up at a Field Day near where I grew up. I spent hours with the guys there, and was hooked.

Once I got involved in the hobby, I bcame interested ARES, but from the technical challange of trying to communicate from point A to point B when there is no existing infrastructure. The last two incidents, where I currently live, we could not use HF due to equipment and propagation issues and had to get creative with portable repeaters and linking using cross band repeaters.

However, I also think what has been driving up the numbers (and it seems the ARRL either refuses to acknowledge or at least in that "pro" ARES article) is the prepper movement.
Agreed. It seems here in Canada, that RAC is either blind or just does not care what the reality of the situation with new people getting licensed. ARRL and RAC are trying to spin a story to stay relevant.

I suspect despite what the ARRL would like to think, not a lot of those new license holders are registering with their local ARES groups, participating in local marathons, bike rides, storm spotting, etc, but instead just getting licensed so they can communicate during the zombie apocalypse :roll:
I agree. In Alberta there is a four wheel drive club that requires that their members get licensed and install, at a minimum, a 50w 144MHz radio. They learned that CB just does not cut it here in the mountains along the eastern side of the Rockies. 99% of the members will never get involved in amateur radio as a hobby, It is like a radio to a fire fighter, just another tool they carry with them and use because they need it.
 
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#14
I think many just want a ham license to add to their Wacker tool box.
I have see many ask if they can put light bars on their vehicles after taking a storm spotter class. same for CERT and ARES. It just makes them think they are important enough to be a full fledged wacker with Flashing Lights .
 

AI7PM

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#16
I just wish more of the ARES / EMCOMM groups would regularly train on other types of communications instead of just focusing on Amateur Radio. I would rather have a group of guys that have a bit more technical knowledge than guys that just want to talk on the amateur bands.

Examples:
Install portable base 800mhz P25 radios
Run IP phone connections
Troubleshoot a radio console (both analog and digital)
Install a POTS line
Install a WIFI antenna
Cut whips for other bands
Maintain fixed/mobile satellite terminals
ETC

I am sure there are groups out there that do this...but they are few and far between. Become more of an asset to your served agencies and make yourselves more useful during a disaster.

CE
DING! And what a great way to expand your knowledge and abilities.
 

AI7PM

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#17
I think many just want a ham license to add to their Wacker tool box.
I have see many ask if they can put light bars on their vehicles after taking a storm spotter class. same for CERT and ARES. It just makes them think they are important enough to be a full fledged wacker with Flashing Lights .
You forgot County EOC ID cards, with 24 hour access. (yeah, we have several of those, and they were nowhere to be seen during the hurricane) Gotta have lots of badges/ID cards, EOC ball cap, EOC shirt.......
 
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#18
Are you sure they are learning to use it?



From what I have seen, they buy a $35 Chicom, throw it in their "go" bag and they are done. Never hear them on the air or utilizing their radios on the amateur bands. IMHO, passing the Tech exam does not teach anyone how to "use" a radio.


Most of the serious preppers I know are actually quite serious in amateur radio. Repeaters are not an extremely knowledgeable subject to them but simplex and HF sure are.


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marcotor

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#19
From only my perspective here in California, most new hams have learned the answers to the exam, and little else. Most have have no idea why a radio wave propagates, how using 200 watts to access a UHF repeater 15 miles away is a waste, antennas, blah, blah, blah.

now get off my lawn :)
 
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#20
You forgot County EOC ID cards, with 24 hour access. (yeah, we have several of those, and they were nowhere to be seen during the hurricane) Gotta have lots of badges/ID cards, EOC ball cap, EOC shirt.......
In my previous ARES membership, we all got EOC IDs, not only for city/county, but also for one of the largest military installations on the west coast, because a state run EOC was there....

BUT....

None of the members were card carrying whackers... I think only 2 members even had amber lights and that was because they used it in their day jobs (one was a mail carrier, the other worked construction, IIRC)..

I quit after about a year....

Why?

Lack of direction. Lack of leadership.. I addressed this with the people in charge and they said that they wanted things very flexible... For someone with commercial/Public Safety experience (communications and otherwise), their 'we'll do whatever we gotta do, and we'll figure it out as we go' attitude just irked me.. Didn't seem like much planning... 'Here's a freq. list, here's who's doing the net this week, and oh BTW we need some volunteers for this walkathon thing'.... is pretty much all I heard... They required FEMA courses which I already had, but the whole situation was just WAY too lax.. not enough structure...

Drills were calling from EOC to EOC, which was a joke, as half the time the other EOCs wouldn't answer because they weren't staffed, or we would get a 'good signal' from them...

EMCOMM is NOT ARES/RACES IMHO, not in the prepper mindset at least....
 
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