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Interpretation of FCC Part 97 Emergency Distress Operations Rules

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#1
The MARS/CAP thing is pretty much pointless at this stage. Calling it that is sort of silly. I'd rather they call it what it is and be done with it.
The 'Whacker Mod'



The trouble I have is that that people that claim the need for this don't usually have the understanding of what it entails to do what they claim they will do with it. There is a lot more to it than just programming frequency and DCS/CTCSS tones.

You hit that square on the head.
 
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#2
Others may have different experiences but the only guys that I know of that mod their radios are CB freebanders. None having any intention of getting into or knowledge of MARS/CAP.
 
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#3
Exactly.


You hit that square on the head.
I'm responsible for the technical side of a small PSAP. A few years ago I was having lunch with the dispatch supervisor and I asked her how they'd react to a "distress" call coming in on one of our VHF channels.
Initial reaction would be "hoax".
Secondary reaction would be "why the he77 is this guy on our channel?"
Tertiary reaction would be "ok, get him/her the help they need".
Forth reaction would be "make sure he doesn't do it again"
Fifth reaction would be to call me and want to know how it happened and how we keep it from happening again. Read: Encryption considered.

What most whackers/wannabees don't understand is that most dispatch centers have a call taker position and a radio position. Calling in directly to the radio position with what ~you~ think is an emergency isn't going to provide better or faster response than calling 911. In fact, it's probably going to slow things down a bit. It bypasses the triage stage, it makes it difficult for them to provide proper instructions on how to assist, it gets in the way of other (maybe higher priority) traffic. It ties up a radio position.

The right tool for the job is a PLB. For $200 anyone can own one and it'll get help to you even if there is no radio or cell phone coverage. If you want to, get a satellite phone. Remember, "when all else fails" the fate of the free world will be resting on a bunch of people who passed a 35 question multiple choice test and bought a $20 Chinese radio.

Best approach is to be prepared in the first place. Relying on a hacked amateur grade radio isn't being prepared.

If someone wants to hack their amateur radio, that's fine with me. But for Pete's sake, call it what it is.
 
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#4
What most whackers/wannabees don't understand is that most dispatch centers have a call taker position and a radio position. Calling in directly to the radio position with what ~you~ think is an emergency isn't going to provide better or faster response than calling 911. In fact, it's probably going to slow things down a bit. It bypasses the triage stage, it makes it difficult for them to provide proper instructions on how to assist, it gets in the way of other (maybe higher priority) traffic. It ties up a radio position.


Best approach is to be prepared in the first place. Relying on a hacked amateur grade radio isn't being prepared.

If someone wants to hack their amateur radio, that's fine with me. But for Pete's sake, call it what it is.
Absolutely spot on. You'd lose more time trying to prove that you're not a whackjob/terrorist than you'd ever gain in bypassing the usual route.
 
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AI7PM

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#5
The 'Whacker Mod'

You hit that square on the head.
Yup. Know a guy (Whacker) who did this so he could also use GMRS for REACT. Of course, he also put in the FD freqs and gosh knows what else. So there we are in the EOC, and we hear him give his ham callsign over the FD freq. Oooops, wrong memory bank I guess. The emergency manager just shook his head.

Trunking and encryption, so I was told, makes him irate. When the Sheriff's public service aids finally went from VHF onto the regular sheriff 800 freqs., I guess it left him with nothing to preside over.
 
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#6
Quote:
"Best approach is to be prepared in the first place. Relying on a hacked amateur grade radio isn't being prepared.
If someone wants to hack their amateur radio, that's fine with me. But for Pete's sake, call it what it is."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To which I say--"Amen!"
.
I agree wholeheartedly

-- That said, of course I can't but stick in another 2-cents worth.... here is a true story, anecdotal, tis' true, and may or may not have a point here...but I like telling stories......you be the judges---
.
This happen years ago- it happened out in the middle of the Central Pacific on a project, aboard a research vessel. One of of our team came and got me, saying..

"Lauri, you should come up (to the bridge) and hear what going on"

There, around one of the HF radios was gathered a small group, while one of my engineers was talking to a young female voice.

"What's going on?" I asked...

She told me that a young woman, apparently a missionary, at a village on a small atoll was calling us in distress- a medical emergency-- but she was calling on our Tech Com command channel. She said she was unable to get anyone on their missionary net HF frequency, and that they had a person, seriously ill, possibly dying, on their island. She was able to dial our frequency on their *Ham Radio Station* (emphasis added).... would--Could?? we help them? (their missionary net was in the 2 Mhz band, a bad bad choice for a daytime distress call in the tropics, btw)... Would we help them??

----------Stupid Question
....................Of course we would help them............!
.
Our ship's Captain put us around and on course for that atoll. We called into the military on Kwajalein Atoll, and a humanitarian rescue was instantly effected. Mean while our engineer kept constant communications with the young woman until the military came on frequency. We later learned that this little action had save a life.
.
My point?... well, that young woman was using a "Hacked" ham radio (our frequency was in the 8Mhz band)--- If she had Not gotten a hold of us...??? We were, as she said, the ONLY station she could hear ....
.
I guess you can draw your own conclusions
.
...........................................CF
 
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#7
Quote:
"Best approach is to be prepared in the first place. Relying on a hacked amateur grade radio isn't being prepared.
If someone wants to hack their amateur radio, that's fine with me. But for Pete's sake, call it what it is."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To which I say--"Amen!"
.
I agree wholeheartedly

-- That said...

CF

Big difference on an international expedition, VS the local Whacker ham modifying his dual band radio and programming Law/Fire/EMS repeaters...
 
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#8
My point?... well, that young woman was using a "Hacked" ham radio (our frequency was in the 8Mhz band)--- If she had Not gotten a hold of us...??? We were, as she said, the ONLY station she could hear ....
.
I guess you can draw your own conclusions
.
...........................................CF
A valid point, to which I'd probably reply something to the effect of:
"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail".

2MHz, not a good choice.
There's other technologies they should have had. Sat phone, PLB, something other than 2MHz?
Maybe even an adult who could make decisions, rather than a child?

Can't say I wouldn't do the exact same thing. In fact, I'll say it: "I'd do the exact same thing". (<--- Hi, my name is Matt, and I approve of this message.)

I'd add, though, that I wouldn't go out on a remote atoll with nothing other than an amateur radio as my only form of communications. Doubly reinforce that if I had my son with me. I've done stupid stuff to risk my own life, but I would never do that to him.

My point is that some people do not have the capability, background, or understanding to think it through. An amateur radio license should not be confused with being a public safety professional. A two way radio is a single tool. Police officers, EMT's, Fire Fighters all have multiple tools in their toolbox. A radio is just one of many tools. If public safety is what someone is really interested in, then the training needs to extend way beyond getting an amateur radio license.

As they say "If all you have is a hammer, every problem starts too look like a nail". Amateurs need to get beyond the single tool/radio mentality. There are more skills that are needed beyond clipping a wire in a radio.
 

krokus

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#10
There should be some differentiation between HF gear, and VHF/UHF gear.

For VHF/UHF, there is little reason to mod the stuff, these days. Legacy ham radio is wideband; currently almost everything else is narrowband. (Assuming they have not gone digital, which is another can of worms.) Then factor in what mmckenna said about the dispatch center.

HF gear can be a different matter, but must be used only in a true emergency. (Similar to what CF posted.)

Sent via Tapatalk
 
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#11
Big difference on an international expedition, VS the local Whacker ham modifying his dual band radio and programming Law/Fire/EMS repeaters...
Ok; You are a ham. Your day job is with IT at a private company. You are on a hiking trip deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains. You happen to be carrying your front panel programmable VHF commercial radio that you use solely for Part 97 Ham Radio operations.

Rushing toward you on a trail is a young mother frantically waving. It turns out her young daughter has fallen down a ravine, impaled herself on a small tree and is bleeding very badly. The father has the wound controlled but is clear the patient will need to be carefully extricated and airlifted.

Between you, you have three cellphones and none of them can get service. You try your Ham radio on all the programmed local frequencies and no joy in raising a repeater or another operator on simplex. In your cellphone you have a pdf copy of DHS NIFOG inter-operational communications frequency directory.

What is your next step?
 
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#12
Does Anybody Even Bother With CAP/MARS Modifications Any Longer?

Ok; You are a ham. Your day job is with IT at a private company. You are on a hiking trip deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains. You happen to be carrying your front panel programmable commercial radio that you use solely for Part 97 Ham Radio operations.

Rushing toward you on a trail is a young mother frantically waving. It turns out her young daughter has fallen down a ravine, impaled herself on a small tree and is bleeding very badly. The father has the wound controlled but is clear the patient will need to be carefully extricated and airlifted.

Between you, you have three cellphones and none of them can get service. You try your Ham radio on all the programmed local frequencies and no joy in raising a repeater or another operator on simplex. In your cellphone you have a pdf copy of DHS NIFOG inter-operational communications frequency directory.

What is your next step?
Trigger the emerg function on my SPOT, and pull out the sat-phone and call non-emerg line to dispatch centre(911 does not work on a sat-phone)
 
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#13
Trigger the emerg function on my SPOT, and pull out the sat-phone and call non-emerg line to dispatch centre(911 does not work on a sat-phone
You don't have a SPOT or a SAT Phone neither do the victims parents or any of the fifteen other hikers who have arrived who also cannot get dial tone on a cell phone.

Quick the child has lost a lot of blood.
 
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#14
You don't have a SPOT or a SAT Phone neither do the victims parents or any of the fifteen other hikers who have arrived who also cannot get dial tone on a cell phone.


Actually, yes I do.

Being prepared, means having those tools. A modified hammy radio, is NOT being prepared.

Sorry, I'm not taking the bait. I go prepared. I have no need to have, or program first responder frequencies in my radio. I have LMR radios, with licensed frequencies, that I will stand a better chance of getting help, than a modified ham toy.
 
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#15
Section 97.403 states that no provision of the Rules prevents the use by an amateur station of any means of radiocommunication at its disposal to provide essential communications in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available.

The disclaimer being, so many people who modify the damn things to start with have absolutely no clue (in addition to an entitled inflated self-worth) of what an actual emergency is.
 
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#17
Does Anybody Even Bother With CAP/MARS Modifications Any Longer?

Ok; You are a ham. Your day job is with IT at a private company. You are on a hiking trip deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains. You happen to be carrying your front panel programmable VHF commercial radio that you use solely for Part 97 Ham Radio operations.

Rushing toward you on a trail is a young mother frantically waving. It turns out her young daughter has fallen down a ravine, impaled herself on a small tree and is bleeding very badly. The father has the wound controlled but is clear the patient will need to be carefully extricated and airlifted.
So, while this is a very painful, and scarey experience, the father has the bleeding under control?

My original statement stands. Emergency trigger on my SPOT and a call via sat-phone to the non-emergency number of the local dispatch centre. Again, 911 does not operate on sat-phones.

Between you, you have three cellphones and none of them can get service.
Great!!! Send them down the trail, with instructions to call 911, when they either get service, or they get to a land line.

You try your Ham radio on all the programmed local frequencies and no joy in raising a repeater or another operator on simplex.
Oh well. In that case I would also try my LMR radio on the almost 200 legit LMR channels I have programmed in it.

In your cellphone you have a pdf copy of DHS NIFOG inter-operational communications frequency directory.

What is your next step?

Wait. The child, likely in extreme pain, is not in imminent danger, her father has managed to control the bleeding. Next step is to keep her calm, and keep the wound stable until the pros arrive.

You don't have a SPOT or a SAT Phone neither do the victims parents or any of the fifteen other hikers who have arrived who also cannot get dial tone on a cell phone.

Quick the child has lost a lot of blood.
Actually, I would have a SPOT or some other type of PLB. I go out prepared.

Unless any of those 15 hikers has advanced medical training, you send them all down the trail to call 911 when they get service, or get to a land line. Making sure at least one of them comes back to confirm help is on the way.

At this point all you are going to do by getting on a first responder repeater, is confuse them, and slow down any help while they try and figure out who this unknown person on their frequency is.

The wound is controlled, and the child is stable. Pain is not a imminent danger to human life.

Section 97.403 states that no provision of the Rules prevents the use by an amateur station of any means of radiocommunication at its disposal to provide essential communications in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available.
The child is stable, and being cared for, people have been sent to get help. Because the child is stable:

The father has the wound controlled
Section 97.403 does not apply. You now open yourself up to legal liability by using your modified ham radio OR your commercial radio programmed with frequencies you are not authorized to use.

The disclaimer being, so many people who modify the damn things to start with have absolutely no clue (in addition to an entitled inflated self-worth) of what an actual emergency is.

That is abundantly clear in this thread.

Unlike most people here, I actually have had to summon emergency services via radio. Except I did not have a radio, and there was no cell service where I was. What was there was a OTR driver with. A LMR radio with LAD 1. We had all three emergency services on scene with in 15minutes. No need to use a hacked ham radio on the RCMP or BCAS repeater. Just a simple 30w simplex call from trucker to trucker got the job done.

Wannabe Rescue Randy's with their modded radio need a reality check.

Edit: just saw the FPP commercial radio part. Regardless, my statement stands. I will not use channels I'm not authorized on. Period.

It's not only about the gear. Popping up on frequencies you are not authorized is only going to slow down any response.
 
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#18
You don't have a SPOT or a SAT Phone neither do the victims parents or any of the fifteen other hikers who have arrived who also cannot get dial tone on a cell phone.

Quick the child has lost a lot of blood.
Then you are woefully unprepared to the point of being a hazard to yourself and others. Being prepared doesn't mean just being prepared for YOU. It means being prepared for whatever comes along. I don't carry the stuff I carry on the trail just for me, I carry it for each and every person I pass along the way.

A hacked amateur radio should not be your only method of preparation. Part 90 FPP radio shouldn't be either. It's not just about the type acceptance (or lack of) on the radio, it's the thought that some people consider preparedness to be a "one deep" affair. A radio should not be your only tool.
 
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#19
Then you are woefully unprepared to the point of being a hazard to yourself and others. Being prepared doesn't mean just being prepared for YOU. It means being prepared for whatever comes along. I don't carry the stuff I carry on the trail just for me, I carry it for each and every person I pass along the way.



A hacked amateur radio should not be your only method of preparation. Part 90 FPP radio shouldn't be either. It's not just about the type acceptance (or lack of) on the radio, it's the thought that some people consider preparedness to be a "one deep" affair. A radio should not be your only tool.

/\/\/\/\/\

This.

It is amazing how so many think taking a modified ham radio, or a LMR, both loaded with the area public safety frequencies, is being prepared.

A radio is but one tool to carry.

A list of stuff one should take:

Compass, GPS, maps, signalling mirror, food, water, clothing appropriate for where you are going, rain gear, first aid kit, para-cord, knife, saw, chainsaw(if on an ATV/UTV) fuel, matches, lighter, SPOT Beacon, radio.

Is a radio important? Yes. But there are many MORE important things than a radio, things that will actually help you.
 
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#20
Section 97.403 states that no provision of the Rules prevents the use by an amateur station of any means of radiocommunication at its disposal to provide essential communications in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available.

The disclaimer being, so many people who modify the damn things to start with have absolutely no clue (in addition to an entitled inflated self-worth) of what an actual emergency is.
So, here is why that doesn't apply in this situation, or the way some amateurs think it does:

Notice this part: "Section 97.403"
As I'm sure you know, Part 97 applies to amateur radio frequencies. It does not apply to Part 90, Part 80, Part 22, etc. etc. etc... Part 97 rules give you zero authority on Part 90 frequencies. Just like Part 90 frequencies don't have any rights on Part 97 frequencies. Claiming Part 97 rules apply here is like you visiting my home and making up your own rules. They don't apply here.

Where this applies is that under Part 97 rules, a Novice/Tech etc. can use General/Extra band plan to get help. It in no way applies to opening up an amateur radio and transmitting where you do not have authority or a license.

If this argument went the other way and amateurs were permitted to use their amateur radio gear outside the rules for emergencies, it would be specifically called out right here:
eCFR &mdash; Code of Federal Regulations

The FCC has also made it abundantly clear that using non-type accepted equipment for use on frequencies that require type accepted equipment is not permitted.
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-588A1.pdf

I understand what you are trying to say here. I get it. It just doesn't apply the way those with an amateur centric point of view think it does.
 
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