Emergency Traffic Stories

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First off, I do not want a debate on what-if scenarios and legality of off-band transmissions during emergencies. This is strictly a recap of actual events and what happened afterwards (if it's known).

Basically I am curious if anyone out there has any stories of people whether HAMS or Civilians using radio frequencies, whether authorized to use them or not, to summon help in an emergency. No public safety personnel or "work place" stories because there would be thousands of those and people are generally expected to call for help on their radio at work if they have one.

The only instance that I am personally aware of comes from a radio transcript of FDNY Manhattan on 9/11, quoted below. This particular story is a civilian on a public safety frequency.

•DISPATCHER: Manhattan to Field Comm.
•CIVILIAN: I'm a civilian. I'm trapped inside of one of your fire trucks underneath the collapse that just happened.
•UNKNOWN UNIT: Standby. There's people close to you.
•CIVILIAN: I can't breathe much longer. Save me! I'm in the cab of your truck.
•DISPATCHER: Person transmitting a mayday. Where are you, K.
•CIVILIAN: I just told you. It's north of the world trade center; there's the north pedestrian bridge. I think it collapsed when the partial building just collapsed. I was on the street. I don't have much air Please, help me!
•RESCUE 2: Rescue 2 chauffeur, I copy that. I'm going to look for her.
•DISPATCHER: 10-4.
•DISPATCHER: Manhattan to Field Comm urgent K.
•CIVILIAN: I can barely breath. Please send somebody.
•DISPATCHER: Okay, the person calling for help. Listen to me. You need to calm down and relax. Standby, we do have somebody on the way. You're to maintain air. Get off the air. We do have somebody on the way over to you. You're to remain calm, 10-4?
•CIVILIAN: 10-4. I'm in the cab of the truck.
•DISPATCHER: 10-4. We do have people on the way over there. Manhattan to Field Comm urgent.
As for the outcome of what happened to this person, there's hardly any chance of finding out as this was transmitted before the second tower collapsed, likely on top of them. But they could have also been freed as the next tower didn't collapse for nearly half an hour after this call was made.

The full transcript can be found here: Transcripts (There is no further from this unidentified person).

To reiterate, this topic is not for debating the legality of the issue, just recapping the events as they happened. If you're thinking of trying to find some excuse to transmit on other bands just remember that an emergency is not a preplanned event. Besides, if you're planning what to do when you get trapped in a crushed fire truck under a collapsed 100-story building, you really need help there, Dwight Schrute.
 

QDP2012

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ecps92

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There is Nothing wrong with the example given.

It was an Authorized Radio belonging to an Authorized Agency. Just because the person using it was not a member of that Dept/Agency has no bearing on.

And has nothing to do with Amateur as this is/was in the Local Government Allocations, not Amateur.

First off, I do not want a debate on what-if scenarios and legality of off-band transmissions during emergencies. This is strictly a recap of actual events and what happened afterwards (if it's known).

Basically I am curious if anyone out there has any stories of people whether HAMS or Civilians using radio frequencies, whether authorized to use them or not, to summon help in an emergency. No public safety personnel or "work place" stories because there would be thousands of those and people are generally expected to call for help on their radio at work if they have one.

The only instance that I am personally aware of comes from a radio transcript of FDNY Manhattan on 9/11, quoted below. This particular story is a civilian on a public safety frequency.



As for the outcome of what happened to this person, there's hardly any chance of finding out as this was transmitted before the second tower collapsed, likely on top of them. But they could have also been freed as the next tower didn't collapse for nearly half an hour after this call was made.

The full transcript can be found here: Transcripts (There is no further from this unidentified person).

To reiterate, this topic is not for debating the legality of the issue, just recapping the events as they happened. If you're thinking of trying to find some excuse to transmit on other bands just remember that an emergency is not a preplanned event. Besides, if you're planning what to do when you get trapped in a crushed fire truck under a collapsed 100-story building, you really need help there, Dwight Schrute.
 

rapidcharger

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It's pretty obvious someone is looking for justification for modifying their ham radio to TX out of band. If that's what you're looking for, then you have my blessing. Just don't use it for day-to-day operation for your fire dept job, only true mayday calls. A mayday call is NOT "My ATV has a flat tire" or "My truck is stuck in the mud". I also wouldn't take only a modded radio into the wildnerness expecting it to save your life. In modern times, even in the rural areas, many agencies have moved away to digital or trunking or 700/800 and if they haven't and you don't have a cell phone signal, chances are you can't get out by radio either. That's just the reality of it. You're better off taking a PLB.
 

elk2370bruce

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1. The scenario listed is a valid example of the use of a public safety radio used by a non-employee for the immediate saving of life. It matters NOT if the individual using the radio was a licensed ham or not. This has nothing to do with amateur radio licenses, band plans, or out-of-band justification. With the state of emergency of 9/11, all bets were off since damn near all of the city's radio repeaters went down. There are real cases (as the one described) and there are those where other means of communications were available but not attempted. These latter cases are open to individual interpretation/rationalization and not usually appropriate to the situation that existed.
 

k7wcb

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I was an emergency dispatcher and 911 Dispatch Center Supervisor for a few years before doing what I do for the department now. I have read case reports and seen training materials where a lone officer is down after being shot, struck by a vehicle, or other misc circumstances and joe citizen grabs the cop's mic to let their dispatch know that help is needed. I don't have any specific cases to reference to but I know it happens.
 

BJ_NORTON

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i had a conversation about this a few weeks ago with a friend, and he told the story of the one time he called for help from his ham radio to the local police. In the early ninties, before cell phones were very common my friend witnessed a pretty bad accident while he was stopped at a red light. He called on the local area command frequency and identified himself as an amateur radio operator, gave his callsign and briefly described the accident. the dispatcher told him thank you, and to get off the channel.He apologized and went QRT, but said that while the dispatcher was telling him to move on he was already hearing sirens. Of course, back then Metro police was on VHF-HI, and nowadays they are on a crappy 700mHz opensky sytem, and moving to a P25 phase II system, so it is just about impossible that this story could ever play out again.

Another friend once summoned help for a stranded ham in a very remote part of Nevada. While changing between repeaters on his radio at home he heard the other station calling for help on a linked repeater system that covers vast stretches of rural Nevada. No one else answered the ham in need, so my friend took the guys location ( if I remember right the guy was out driving on trails by himself an only knew roughly where he was) and called the sheriff's office for the county where the stranded ham thought he was and a few hours later the sheriff found him, took him to the nearest town and gave directions for a tow truck to get back to the abandoned jeep. I think that story was written up in QST
 
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i had a conversation about this a few weeks ago with a friend, and he told the story of the one time he called for help from his ham radio to the local police. In the early ninties, before cell phones were very common my friend witnessed a pretty bad accident while he was stopped at a red light. He called on the local area command frequency and identified himself as an amateur radio operator, gave his callsign and briefly described the accident. the dispatcher told him thank you, and to get off the channel.He apologized and went QRT, but said that while the dispatcher was telling him to move on he was already hearing sirens. Of course, back then Metro police was on VHF-HI, and nowadays they are on a crappy 700mHz opensky sytem, and moving to a P25 phase II system, so it is just about impossible that this story could ever play out again.

Another friend once summoned help for a stranded ham in a very remote part of Nevada. While changing between repeaters on his radio at home he heard the other station calling for help on a linked repeater system that covers vast stretches of rural Nevada. No one else answered the ham in need, so my friend took the guys location ( if I remember right the guy was out driving on trails by himself an only knew roughly where he was) and called the sheriff's office for the county where the stranded ham thought he was and a few hours later the sheriff found him, took him to the nearest town and gave directions for a tow truck to get back to the abandoned jeep. I think that story was written up in QST
Thanks! As I said, all I am interested in are the stories.

As for RapidCharger's post, I have no interest in programming anything to function in a manner to do it isn't designed to do by the manufacturer. Besides, as part of one of my jobs I am authorized to use those frequencies when I am on the job under the company's radio license on systems owned by cities with which they have contractual agreements for emergency responses. None of my personal radios are programmed with those frequencies in them as they are not certified for use in those particular bands as governed by the applicable FCC rules on spurious transmissions.
 
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n5ims

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I was an emergency dispatcher and 911 Dispatch Center Supervisor for a few years before doing what I do for the department now. I have read case reports and seen training materials where a lone officer is down after being shot, struck by a vehicle, or other misc circumstances and joe citizen grabs the cop's mic to let their dispatch know that help is needed. I don't have any specific cases to reference to but I know it happens.
Here's (Good Samaritan gets help for injured Carrollton officer | wfaa.com Dallas - Fort Worth) one published example of a citizen assisting a downed officer by using that officer's radio. Since the radio was a proper authorized PD radio on the licensed PD frequency there was no issues with licensing (or lack there of) or authorization (or lack there of). It was a departmental radio on a departmental frequency. While the citizen wasn't normally allowed to operate that radio, all involved were happy they did at the time. Had he whipped out his personal HT tuned to their frequency, they probably wouldn't have been quite as happy with him.

For those that want the cause of the accident, the officer ran the red light as was clearly visible on his in-car camera. They also indicated that he was on routine patrol and should've stopped like any other driver. You can see the assisting citizen walk up to the officer in the video after the accident. Carrollton officer ran red light before crash | wfaa.com Dallas - Fort Worth
 
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