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Old 05-13-2009, 5:04 AM
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Default A mayday?

Has anyone heard/responded to a Mayday on an amateur freq? Maybe a Mayday called on a public safety freq?
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Old 05-13-2009, 10:25 AM
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I dont really hear many mayday or SOS since i monitor 2 repeaters that i live near, rarely do i think an SOS/mayday would occur but you cant expect the unexpected.

A mayday on public safety frequency? its more of a push the orange button now and kick butt kinda thing if its a police officer needing help "thats if the radio has the emergency button feature"
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Old 05-13-2009, 10:38 PM
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I was in a car accident a few years ago and was unable to get to my cell phone. I interrupted a conversation on a local 70cm repeater to ask for assistance, but I didn't actually say mayday. I just said, "break break ... KI4WKM with emergency traffic!" The ham operators were very helpful with contacting the PD & EMS.

As an EMT I was transporting a patient to hospital in a nearby city and was monitoring their fire department when I heard a mayday call made. I replied as anyone would do, but it turned out to be a training class.
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Old 05-13-2009, 10:49 PM
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Its always good to be listening and monitoring, youll never know what will happen.
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Old 08-15-2018, 10:12 AM
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Default Mayday

I am a net control station on the Maritime Mobile Service Net. We answer many mayday calls. Four in July. We operate on 14.300 @ 12 to 10.00 pm eastern time.
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Old 08-15-2018, 11:02 AM
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Twice in my life I've attempted to use amateur radio to summon help.

Both times, amateurs failed miserably.

They "didn't want to get involved". One time it was an obviously drunk driver. Called on a repeater for someone with access to a phone (this was before ubiquitous cell phones), played 20 questions with the dork, by then the guy was gone. Not sure what the amateurs issue was, he seemed to want to play dispatcher, but wouldn't actually make the call.

Second time was when I was way out in the boonies. Truck slid off the road and needed a tow. Easily reached someone on a repeater. Again, I got a "I don't want to get involved" answer. Refused to call a tow truck. Refused to call highway patrol. Just seemed to want to talk to someone, but not actually put any effort into it.

I don't rely on amateur radio for anything, as the people on their are -hobbyists-, nothing more.
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Old 08-15-2018, 2:51 PM
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.
I have never heard the word "MAYDAY" used over any radio. That said, I have heard and participated in a number of Mayday scenarios. Two of the more interesting I'll relate in moment.
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First, tho, I would never rely on hams to come to my rescue. And that is a hard statement to make, since I know quite a few I would trust my life with. But the chance of running into the careless bozo on the other end of 2 metre's negates that. In this age of 'cel phones that is what I'd always go to first.
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Second, there are plenty of everyday real Maydays. But it is very rare term, and not used except in the extreme..... like that final, universal word of pilots on the cockpit voice recorder-
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"...............Ohhh.. SH*T !!!!.............................................. ........................................"
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I've never heard the word MAYDAY spoken over a radio.
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__________________________________________________ _____________
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Okay, one of my good Mayday scenarios that sticks out in memory occurred while working on a research project in the Central Pacific. We staged our part of the mission from a large research ship that plied the tropical ocean (and what a wonderful way to have all the sasami/sushi tuna we could eat ) .....between test sites and islands.
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First World denizen's, concerned with their Malls, traffic jams and Facebooks, don't have a clue that the rest of the world is still quite a primitive place. Communications from small island villages are often no more than a single 'hacked' Kenwood on HF with a terminated long wire for an antenna.
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So even on a modern US research vessel, with it digital marvels; the Sat 'Fones and other baubles that make "calling home (ET style)" a Skype-like experience at the push of a button-- even with all this, we would each take turns assisting the crew by doing 'Radio Watches".... that is, from the bridge's radio room someone would be listening to our HF traffic channels and V/UHF radios.... and 2182Khz, 156.8....
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One of the things on our Watch List of stations and frequencies was a missionary net. These folks, scattered about the vast Pacific, (tried) to keep in contact with each other using low power HF transceivers on the woefully pathetic choice of frequencies- the 2 Mhz band. We had an agreement to listen on their frequency at regular intervals ...."just in case."
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I can't remember what I was doing when my friend Barb came and said
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"Lauri, come up to the radio shack and take a listen to what's going on."
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Cluster'd about a HF radio, were several of our guys, the captain and the ship's medical officier. On the other end of the radio was a desperate young woman trying to describe the condition of someone near death. Our doctor was talking her thru it.
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What transpired was that this island village had been unable to raise anyone on their radio (remember this, the next time using 2Mhz for anything is suggested.)
...Unable, for days .... Meanwhile someone one got dangerously sick-- and now was dying. Our's was the only station that heard them and respond'd.
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We were close to their island and our course was changed. But that wouldn't get us there fast enuff. So a call went out to the military- and the US Navy responded like Angels. A long range helicopter--- and a life saved.
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________________________________________
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A more humorous tale involved me directly.
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................ I was standing the "watch. "
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At these times I liked to flip over and join in on the HF nets of the Peace Corps volunteers (another one on that accursed 2Mhz band.)
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On one occasion while they were conducting a roll call among the islands, after each break, I heard a weak but intelligible female voice--
"PLEASE, does anyone HEEEAAAR MEEE !! ??"
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This went on thru the roll call, and no one responded to her. They were about to conclude whatever net business they had when I broke in.
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"You have a caller no one's acknowledging, want me to call her ?"
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She answer'd;
....... "Thank You Lauri !!...I have been trying for 2 weeks now to get anyone to hear me.....Please, tell them to send me Bug Spray !-- the gnats, fleas, mosquitos are eating me alive !.... "
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".... For the Love of God, SEND me bug spray !!"
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Lauri
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Old 08-15-2018, 6:48 PM
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Wonderful reading. Thank you!
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Old 08-15-2018, 11:37 PM
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I don't rely on amateur radio for anything, as the people on their are -hobbyists-, nothing more.[/QUOTE]

Please don't brush all amateur radio operators with the same brush. In my area, although not a mayday call, amateurs have been come forward to answer calls for help when floods hit a city and left it with little communications available to outside areas. Amateur radio operators over 200 kms volunteered to help get service to a hospital and to out lying evacuation centres. They were some of the first people responding when the communications went down. In fact, there has been 3 years in the past 15 years where calls went out for assistance when flooding was immanent and amateur radio operators came forward to offer 24 hour help. And aside from these emergencies, I know amateurs have come forward when a person was in a vehicle crash without a cell phone, and also when someone's vehicle was stolen, amateurs answered the call for help. So not all of us are "hobbyists". We also get involved in public service events that have required emergency help with air ambulances, police and ground ambulances. Certainly Mayday calls are very infrequent [more frequent on HF as stated above], but there are calls for other assistance. There are occasions when one has to assess the call for assistance and maybe not pursue doing anything further. A lot of amateur radio operators I know are health care workers, EMT, etc.. In Canada we do not have to worry too much about law suits unless the help offered is malicious and out of what can usually be expected.
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Old 08-16-2018, 12:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmckenna View Post
Twice in my life I've attempted to use amateur radio to summon help.

Both times, amateurs failed miserably.

They "didn't want to get involved". One time it was an obviously drunk driver. Called on a repeater for someone with access to a phone (this was before ubiquitous cell phones), played 20 questions with the dork, by then the guy was gone. Not sure what the amateurs issue was, he seemed to want to play dispatcher, but wouldn't actually make the call.

Second time was when I was way out in the boonies. Truck slid off the road and needed a tow. Easily reached someone on a repeater. Again, I got a "I don't want to get involved" answer. Refused to call a tow truck. Refused to call highway patrol. Just seemed to want to talk to someone, but not actually put any effort into it.

I don't rely on amateur radio for anything, as the people on their are -hobbyists-, nothing more.

Absolutely horrible! Horrible, horrible, horrible. Hearing stuff like that just drives me nuts. If you don't want to help, then don't take the call. Leave it to someone who wants to actually do something. In SoCal in the days before cell phones, we used to handle emergency traffic on repeaters all the time, mostly accidents and such during rainy weather. Was very efficient and effective.

I've heard mayday calls a few times on Guard (121.5), but it's fairly rare. On ham or public service? Never heard it.
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Old 08-16-2018, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
Please don't brush all amateur radio operators with the same brush. In my area, although not a mayday call, amateurs have been come forward to answer calls for help when floods hit a city and left it with little communications available to outside areas.
Agreed, but mostly a ham network, ARES or AREC, call it what you like, is most often there in an assistance role under the supervision of a 'professional' organisation. I've taken part in quite a few 'message handling' exercises with our "emergency corps" working with the police and SAR and mostly it's not much better than a childs game of "chinese whispers". I've been a professional radio operator and it's absolutely essentional to get every word right and written down, especially in a medical emergency, somebody might come pack and ask for a repeat and if you can't say word for word what the message was then the situation could could get worse, not better.
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Old 08-16-2018, 12:45 AM
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Please don't brush all amateur radio operators with the same brush. ..
You are very fortunate. I do not doubt there are some amateurs that do volunteer and assist where needed when organized.

My experience, so far, has been fairly opposite. I cited two instances above. I could have added more personal experiences.

As volunteers they can be a great resource when well organized, but as individuals, there usually isn't enough coordination to do much good in an emergency. There is no guarantee that anyone will be monitoring, there is no guarantee that anyone will respond.

Amateur radio can be a great resource, but in an immediate life or death situation, I would not expect a positive outcome.

I'm not anti-ham. I've been a ham since the late 1980's. Amateur radio has it's place, but it's not the "when all else fails" that the ARRL likes to tout. It's still a rich persons hobby. A great resource, but still a hobby.
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Old 08-16-2018, 8:42 PM
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Amateur radio has it's place, but it's not the "when all else fails" that the ARRL likes to tout. It's still a rich persons hobby.
I would add that if you can't handle a small emergency (i.e. vehicle off the road) how in the world can you be counted one to handle a large-scale emergency (e.g. natural disaster)?!?
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Old 08-17-2018, 3:13 PM
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I once took a wrong turn and my vehicle got stuck in the middle of nowhere at 2 AM, out of range of repeaters or even cell towers! What saved me? A trucker 10 miles away who called authorities and promptly got a tow truck out to help me. Ironically, I was able to reach him not on the ham bands, but on that old wretched citizens band channel 19.
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Old 08-17-2018, 3:56 PM
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I once took a wrong turn and my vehicle got stuck in the middle of nowhere at 2 AM, out of range of repeaters or even cell towers! What saved me? A trucker 10 miles away who called authorities and promptly got a tow truck out to help me. Ironically, I was able to reach him not on the ham bands, but on that old wretched citizens band channel 19.
Many years ago when I still fiddled with CB one bitter cold night I was up late, couldn't sleep, flipping channels. I came across a person calling for help. They'd slid off and down over an embankment. It's a miracle anybody could hear him, much less the 5 or so miles his signal had to travel to get to me. But I had an antenna up pretty high back then and I think that's what did it because I later heard that the local SD was trying to use their CB's to zero in on him (after I called them and relayed the request for assistance) and couldn't hear him until they were already able to see the car. The fellow was banged up pretty badly and borderline hypothermic (it was well below 0F) but he made it. Got a nice card from him for relaying his yell for help. I didn't think it was that big a deal at the time...somebody calls for help, pick up the phone and send it along. We really take cell phones for granted these days.
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Old 08-17-2018, 5:01 PM
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I would add that if you can't handle a small emergency (i.e. vehicle off the road) how in the world can you be counted one to handle a large-scale emergency (e.g. natural disaster)?!?
I agree. And that's a personal pet peeve when I see organizations like ARRL playing the "public safety" card, especially when they want amateurs to be treated differently than others (antenna zoning laws, HOA, CC&R's, etc). It's a hobby, and a rich mans hobby at that. I've found it rare that amateurs in the US have any actual training or skills when it comes to handling emergencies.

And by skills and knowledge, I don't mean just monitoring a calling frequency or repeater for emergency calls, I mean actual skills and training on what information to gather and how to best pass it on to the professionals.


There are certainly some groups that are, or at least try, to be proficient at it, but it seems to be an exception, rather than the rule. Out of the 10 or so amateurs I know, only one is actively involved in his local search and rescue team. And, he's not just a "radio operator", he actually participates in searches and recent wild fire evacuations. What I've found over the last 20 years in this industry is that public safety doesn't need volunteer radio operators, technology has come far enough with satellite phones, ALE HF and other resilient systems that they don't need someone to show up and just talk on the radio.
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Old 08-17-2018, 11:31 PM
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And I repeat: don't paint everyone with the same brush. I think "professionals" today like to put themselves on a pedestal and talk down to everyone. And I include myself in that, as health care "professional". Of which we were told ages ago, not to stand on a pedestal! I am thankful that the amateurs I know can be professionals, and that comes from the "professionals" during a disaster or emergency! Some of the training occurs at the work place so that when in a situation, it will be second nature of what to do. So when a call for help comes in, we can do it.
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Old 08-18-2018, 12:28 AM
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I've been a ham longer than I've been in the communications business.
Not intending to sound like I'm on a pedestal, but I can understand how you might think that. My point of view is going to be different than others. Sounds like you have a unique point of view also. My line of work puts me in contact with a lot of first responders and public safety dispatchers and making sure their equipment works. As an amateur radio licensee and working in the communications field it can give me some insight into things that those that are only in the hobby wouldn't necessarily be aware of.

Again, there are amateurs that are good at this stuff, but in my experience, they are the exception, rather than the rule.

This isn't about me and my skills. It's about public safety professionals and how amateurs relate.
There's a big difference between PD, Fire, EMS and 911 dispatchers and the amateur radio operators. They are not the same, and there needs to be a differentiation between them. Some understand that, some choose not to. I've experienced amateurs trying to act as public safety officials. It's dangerous and scary.

And, absolutely, there are public safety professionals that are also amateur radio operators. Of the 10 or so amateurs I know, one is a police sergeant, the other is a fire fighter. In an emergency they are not hams, they fill the roles of their jobs.
Only one ham I know, out of the 10 or so, is actually actively involved in volunteering, and he's first and foremost search and rescue. Amateur radio is just one of the tools he utilizes.

My point is that radio is a tool. It should not be the only tool in the tool box. Amateur radio and public safety are two separate fields and should not be confused.
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Old 08-18-2018, 1:50 AM
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My point is that radio is a tool. It should not be the only tool in the tool box. Amateur radio and public safety are two separate fields and should not be confused.
The fact that this even has to be pointed out to some just astounds me. It seems like common sense.
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Old 08-18-2018, 4:02 AM
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The fact that this even has to be pointed out to some just astounds me. It seems like common sense.
I know it's often a hot-button subject with many amateurs, and I don't want to put salt on that wound. It's rare I've run across that, usually amateurs are well behaved, professional and helpful. On the other hand, when that vast minority of amateurs and some large amateur radio organizations start talking about their role in disaster recovery and emergency response, lots of things get inflated and exaggerated. I've had people who didn't know I was an amateur and worked in the industry try that sales pitch on me.

The "when all else fails" tag line irks me. At one point it took skilled individuals to set up a radio and make contacts across country, or even across a state or county, but that was quite a while ago.
Now, with modern technology, it no longer requires a specially trained radio operator to do that. I have satellite phones at work. I can hand it to an untrained staff member with a one page instruction sheet and they can call anywhere in the world from nearly anywhere in the world. Same goes for ALE HF equipment. While it takes a bit more set up, it's still something you can train someone to do pretty quick.

And since 9/11 the government has been spending billions on improving radio systems for public safety. Grant money flowed like water for many years. Systems are more reliable. Redundancy is now common. More resilient systems have been built. Back up power, alternate sites, it all adds up. Radio systems don't fail the same ways they used to. They still fail, but often there are backup systems that can be used. I can tell you that public safety is not counting on a bunch of random people with radios to swoop in and save the day. Those days are mostly gone. Maybe in very rural areas, but not in the urban or suburban areas.

Take a look at the COML and COMT guys. A lot of them are amateurs, but they don't rely on amateur radio equipment to do their jobs. Portable repeaters, nationwide interoperability channels are the tools you'll see.

Radio amateurs still have a role, but it has changed over the last 17 years. I'd love to see amateur radio change to adapt, rather than hanging to old ideas about "saving the day". It's possible, and some are doing it, but it needs to spread through the hobby.
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