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Using Your Baofeng To Transmit Outside Ham Band In An Emergency?

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Analogrules

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With these Baofengs currently on the market, I was just wondering if it is legal to use them to transmit on an frequency outside the amateur band to report an emergency or crime? Of course, in most situations I would just dial 911. However, living in the NYC area where we have underground subways with zero cell phone service, I would think it would be ok, especially if it is to save someone's life or someone was being threatened by a weapon or attacked, etc.... I was just hoping someone can interpret the legal aspect of reporting something like this from an unmodified Baofeng to perhaps the train conductor crew on their frequency? Keep in mind, Baofengs can transmit on these train frequencies without any difficulty, if programmed with the proper PL and repeater offset. One thing about HAM radio always bothered me. If the main objective for Ham radio operators is to coordinate together during emergencies and stop all normal communications, why is there not a single frequency set aside on the amateur band to communicate directly with public safety officials? Since public safety officials don't all have ham radios at their disposal, what is the point if phone service is unavailable?
 

jaspence

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Emergency transmissions

It is legal, but the nature of the emergency in one person's mind is not always the same as another person. You may think it is serious but still be fined or loose your radio and/or license. With so few public service agencies on the lower frequencies, it is not as likely to be possible as in the past.
 

robertmac

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You would waste a lot of time convincing the person [if you happen to be talking on any system] that you have a real emergency. Any unauthorized users on a licensed frequency will be met with a lot of doubt that the person or emergency is for real. You would probably get a quicker response by finding someone with a cell phone that works [text as well], on an employee of the subway. And this subject has been covered in a number of different threads. The answers are as varied as the number of people on these threads.
 

ko6jw_2

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You will sometimes hear that amateur radio operators can use any frequency in an emergency. I have taken this to mean any AMATEUR frequency. Thus, a technician could transmit on 20 meters in an emergency. It, apparently, does not mean that you are free to drop in on a police or fire frequency in an emergency.

There were attempts a few years ago to use 146.52Mhz as an emergency frequency where transmitting a DTMF "0" of long duration would alert other stations. It is know as "LiTZ" standing for "long tone zero." The tone was to be transmitted for 3 seconds or more. This seems to have never gotten very far. I used to monitor 146.52Mhz regularly, but rarely heard anyone. I did have a few interesting QSO's from time to time, but no emergencies.

I think it's a topic for further discussion, but I'm not holding my breath that this will ever be put into practice. Most people just want to listen to their local repeater when they feel like it.

We used to use auto-patches to dial 911 from our HT's. That was the ideal and legal way to talk directly to emergency services. It was sometimes met with skepticism by the authorities. I remember being asked how can you be reporting a traffic accident on Highway XX when your location shows XYZ Peak. After patiently explaining that I was talking through an auto-patch on a repeater they got the idea. However, with almost universal use of cell phones, the auto-patch is seldom used anymore, if they work at all.

The ARRL has now stated that amateur radio is not an emergency service, but a public service. Therefore, we are not intended to handle emergency traffic, but to play a support role. Another topic for future discussion, I guess.
 

prcguy

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This has been discussed at length recently in another thread, basically in a dire emergency with life threatening consequences and no other means of communication, just about anything goes. If you light up a cop frequency with a legitimate life threatening emergency you may get help but you will probably also get arrested for using the cops radio frequency.

This has happened many times in the past where people have been arrested and you can probably find the stories with a Google search.
prcguy
prcguy
 

canav844

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Living in the NYC area, I suspect there is a decent ham repeater or two; figure out which ones tend to have people on the other end, program those in, having them call 911 for you will almost always be more effective. Also look into which have autopatches that can be used to call 911 directly. And of course, regularly talk on the local repeaters so you know where and when you can get your signal out from. You might even find some repeaters with fewer dead spots than the public safety radios.

Many stories of Ham Radio Operators copying the pertinent information and relaying it via phone to summon emergency services, every thing from car accidents to medical emergencies. Taking an extreme situation and summoning help through the normal channels may also help eliminate a layer of confusion and bring help to you faster.

Beyond that, there's a question in the tech pool that spells out when it is ok to transmit on any frequency necessary to summon help in an emergency, that applies beyond Part 97.

I was looking for but unable to locate a link to the story of a person fined for invoking that when there were other licensed means of communications available to him. Was also unable to find the link for the story of a ham in NV a few years back that got onto a linked repeater system called for help for a motor vehicle accident with injury, took his HT and crossband repeated through his car was able to talk to a ham who was hundreds of miles away and on the phone with 911 and talk to the victim at the same time.
 

JoeyC

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What makes you think your Baofeng is gonna get out to anyone underground in the subway system in the first place?I've never been on the subways in NYC but every other systems cars I have ever been on had an emergency call box at the end of each car for use in an emergency. Use it, thats what it's there for.
 

MTS2000des

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What makes you think your Baofeng is gonna get out to anyone underground in the subway system in the first place?
This thing called Radiax, when connected to a distributed antenna system:

RADIAX®

Most subway systems use this for public safety LMR and cellular.

None the less, using your Baofeng or APX7000 on a frequency you aren't authorized on will result in your being asked about it officially, if it's all that was available at the time and human life was truly at risk, then that is that. However with everyone carrying a cellphone...
 

Analogrules

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Thanks for all your feedback guys. Canav 44, you bring up a good point. There possibly could be a strong ham repeater that can be reached from the underground subway system. I never attempted this before. The train crews have no problem talking on their radios underground due to technology that another user mentioned. I do know that no cell phone network currently works on underground subways and the cars don't even have emergency call boxes. They are working to change this though. But, in the meantime, there is literally no way to contact an official while underground if an emergency occurs. I believe in a true life endangering situation when cell phone is unavailable (which I hopefully would never have to witness), then anything goes. One would think with all the crazy things happening in today's world, that there would be a direct link frequency between ham radio and public safety. I could only imagine the communication difficulties they must have had during Hurricane Sandy and Katrina because hams couldn't communicate with police/fire/rescue directly. When the phone lines go down, electricity goes out, Ham radio is the last line of defense. Therefore, it is sad after all these years, Hams cannot communicate directly with the ones who are trained to help.
 

mmckenna

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Thanks for all your feedback guys. Canav 44, you bring up a good point. There possibly could be a strong ham repeater that can be reached from the underground subway system. I never attempted this before. The train crews have no problem talking on their radios underground due to technology that another user mentioned. I do know that no cell phone network currently works on underground subways and the cars don't even have emergency call boxes. They are working to change this though. But, in the meantime, there is literally no way to contact an official while underground if an emergency occurs. I believe in a true life endangering situation when cell phone is unavailable (which I hopefully would never have to witness), then anything goes. One would think with all the crazy things happening in today's world, that there would be a direct link frequency between ham radio and public safety. I could only imagine the communication difficulties they must have had during Hurricane Sandy and Katrina because hams couldn't communicate with police/fire/rescue directly. When the phone lines go down, electricity goes out, Ham radio is the last line of defense. Therefore, it is sad after all these years, Hams cannot communicate directly with the ones who are trained to help.
"When the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems look like a nail."

A radio is a tool, and you really should have more than one tool in your toolbox. If you really want to help others out, take a first aid class, CPR, etc. A radio shouldn't be your only solution. A police officer, fire fighter, paramedic, etc. don't just rely on their radio. They have lots of training and can do their job without a radio in their hand.

I understand what you are saying, I felt this way once. Then, I realized that you can't put all your eggs into one basket. Expecting a radio to solve all issues isn't a good idea.

As for having one frequency to contact public safety, there are just too many variables involved there. Not every public safety agency is on the same band, and expecting them to install, maintain and operate more equipment isn't going to happen. The other issue we have is that asking for amateurs to be treated differently than everyone else isn't going to work. Public safety dispatch systems are set up very specifically, and letting one group have a "backdoor" into that system doesn't jive with the way it works. Amateurs have no training to communicate with first responders directly. The language is different, and most amateurs don't have the discipline to do it right.

There are ways to do this, but expecting the public safety radio system to change because a guy with an amateur license has a $70 radio that can talk on frequencies outside the amateur bands isn't the way to make it happen. Use an amateur repeater like you are licensed for. Carry a cell phone. Learn first aid and CPR.
 

Analogrules

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I agree the radio is a tool and that people should have more tools under their tool belt. However, there has been many times when the radio alone was enough to save someone's life. Today, having a few ham repeater networks set aside to be linked up with public safety is not asking for much at all. This is because the Dept of Homeland Security is already currently asking all public safety departments to upgrade their radios to interop on the 700 MHz band for a better communication system. This is already happening for several counties here in NJ. It would probably be in their best interest to include a talkgroup patch for a few of the ham radio repeater networks that are already linked throughout the country for more efficient communication. It may already have been done in some places in the midwest more prone to disasters like tornados. Sorry, if I went a little off topic. I just wanted to adress a couple of your statements. Also, after searching the internet for more information, it is absolutely legal to transmit outside the Ham band for emergency use only if no other means of communication is available. It is even a question on the current technician class license test.
 

mikepdx

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Rehashing

Very simple rule:

If every single other means available to you to summon
assistance in a bona-fide life-or-death emergency has been unsuccessful,
you'd be negligent not to use your transceiver "out-of-band".

Otherwise, don't.

BTW: An emergency does not mean a fender-bender,
flat tire, broken down on the highway, reporting some
fool smoking a joint in the park, etc, etc.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A related story:

In our state, 155.805 MHZ is designated as statewide search & rescue.
Some years ago, someone in a small group who was being searched for
in the forest wilderness had that freq programmed in a personal
transceiver and used it to direct the rescuers.

There was no FCC involvement, but
the local sheriff promptly charged the person with a state charge.
I don't remember the charge.

However the judge decided that:
155.805 is our statewide SAR freq.
The state has a valid license from the FCC.
The state consists of it's citizens.
A citizen used the freq solely for it's intended use.
Therefore, not guilty.
 
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SCPD

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transmit

If the Train is in an emergency such as a fire or terrorist threat,go right ahead and use it!
In that situation,whos going to even care.
God Bless America!

Any other reason I'd try and use something else.....
 

bill4long

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However the judge decided that:
155.805 is our statewide SAR freq.
The state has a valid license from the FCC.
The state consists of it's citizens.
A citizen used the freq solely for it's intended use.
Therefore, not guilty.
A very sensible judge.
 
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