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KG4KWW
09-04-2008, 10:59 PM
On September 3, the American Red Cross released a statement to clarify their policy as it concerns Amateur Radio operators. The letter below from American Red Cross Disaster Service Technology Manager Keith Robertory, KG4UIR, is presented in its entirety:

There has recently been some posting on amateur radio discussion groups on the Internet that is carrying false or misleading information. The Red Cross does not have a policy against amateur radio participating in passing health and welfare messages. In fact, we recognize the importance of amateur radio in being a vital method for people to get registered.

The American Red Cross welcomes the support of Amateur Radio Operators in connecting friends and family members together through our health and welfare programs. The grassroots, independent nature of Amateur Radio Operators in communities around the country make them well suited for this task.

General welfare messages are processed through the Red Cross Safe and Well web site. This site allows people to register their status which can be checked by friends and family who search by your name, address or phone number. A quick look at the website disastersafe.redcross.org will show how both the registration process and search are done.

As few as two hams can setup an effective registration process. A ham located in the disaster zone can use any mode to transmit the basic Safe and Well registration information to another ham located outside the disaster who would enter the information on the web site. This quick ad-hoc setup doesn't rely on any affiliations and can be established by a call out to another ham who can help.

The Red Cross also processes welfare inquiry messages that contain specific medical information. These contain more sensitive and personally identifiable information at the same time that the Red Cross keeps confidential to respect client privacy. We are researching if and how these messages can be passed across open frequencies, and what federal restrictions (such as HIPPA) may be impact how this is done.

Thank you,

Keith Robertory
Disaster Service Technology Manager, American Red Cross
KG4UIR



Link To ARRL Article (http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/09/04/10314/?nc=1)

KB1KIX
09-05-2008, 12:41 AM
You mean.... I knew what I was talking about in the other thread.

:rolleyes:

Jonathan

NN4RH
09-05-2008, 01:31 AM
You mean.... I knew what I was talking about in the other thread.

No, not really.


General welfare messages are processed through the Red Cross Safe and Well web site.

Note - Not relayed and delivered via ham radio networks such as NTS.


This quick ad-hoc setup doesn't rely on any affiliations and can be established by a call out to another ham who can help.

Seems to me that they are confirming that national formal HF networks (e.g. NTS) are not necessary to the Red Cross - which is what the other thread was about.

KB1KIX
09-05-2008, 01:56 AM
As few as two hams can setup an effective registration process. A ham located in the disaster zone can use any mode to transmit the basic Safe and Well registration information to another ham located outside the disaster who would enter the information on the web site. This quick ad-hoc setup doesn't rely on any affiliations and can be established by a call out to another ham who can help.


No, not really.



Note - Not relayed and delivered via ham radio networks such as NTS.



Seems to me that they are confirming that national formal HF networks (e.g. NTS) are not necessary to the Red Cross - which is what the other thread was about.

You don't want to admit when you're wrong, truly sad.

Your initial inquiry didn't mention NTS, it mentioned traffic. Traffic does not have to be NTS alone (though I do get what the "T" stands for).

Your initial post didn't mention the use of formal traffic on it's own:


With internet resources like these available for reporting health & welfare status following disasters:

National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System (NEFRLS) (https://asd.fema.gov/inter/nefrls/home.htm)

and

American Red Cross Safe and Well Website (https://disastersafe.redcross.org/)

Does this obsolete the traditional amateur radio paradigm of relaying health & welfare message "traffic" via HF radio networks ?

Bottom line, messages are passed between multiple stations and the information is presented online.

The Red Cross admits that they recognize the role amateur radio plays in providing this service.

Which, I said hams do provide the service.

Get over it station, you were wrong.

Jonathan

K0RGR
09-05-2008, 03:24 AM
VERY INTERESTING!!! I am pleased to see this in writing, as I have been personally chewed out by a Red Cross Comm chieftain for passing H+W traffic on a voice channel. To some extent I agree that a more secure means is a great idea.

Unfortunately, there are 'weasel words' at the bottom of the notice. HIPPA and privacy concerns are exactly why our regional Red Cross comm folks objected.

NN4RH
09-05-2008, 11:06 AM
Your initial inquiry didn't mention NTS, it mentioned traffic.

Read it again. It says traffic via HF RADIO NETWORKS.


Your initial post didn't mention the use of formal traffic on it's own:

Correct. The question was about HF RADIO NETWORKS, not formal traffic per se.


Bottom line, messages are passed between multiple stations and the information is presented online.

Via "quick ad-hoc setup doesn't rely on any affiliations" according to their statement

Quick = Does not take several days to relay a message through the HF nets up and down through sections, areas, regions, etc.

Ad-hoc = Does not need a formal structured HF Network.

doesn't rely on any affilication = Not expected to be part of an HF Network, NTS, or even ARRL members


The Red Cross admits that they recognize the role amateur radio plays in providing this service.

Which, I said hams do provide the service.

The service of individual amateurs or local groups was never in dispute. You're the one who keeps bringing that into the issue. The issue was HF RADIO NETWORKS


Get over it station, you were wrong.

The only problem is that you insist on arguing about a different issue than the one I posed the thread about.

NN4RH
09-05-2008, 11:14 AM
The Red Cross statement very clearly confirms that they want to use their internet service for health and welfare messages, not an HF radio network; and the very limited role of amateurs is to help get information into the system as quickly and efficiently and with as little ham involvement as possible.

I don't see any other possible way to interpret it.

K4RAF
09-05-2008, 12:31 PM
Roles like the fictional "When ALL Else Fails" are becoming more diminished by the day.

If ham radio embraced some form of wireless internet connectivity, the role it serves would not be diminished. However, we are no longer the pool of "thinkers" who solve problems looking forward. The only thinkers left are content spending their days speculating why you CAN'T do something, rather than actually doing it. Not the ham radio of 25 years ago, thanks in part to complacency, part is thanks to the internet.

It is not like some of us can't solve the problem but denying the internet is eclipsing ham radio's "utility" with outdated rules has to be addressed first before systems can be implemented & deployed in the field. I could run a LOS/NLOS backhaul & provide full Wi-Fi or ethernet connectivity & net access from my truck, powered by solar if needed.

Raf
wifidx@gmail.com

W3WN
09-05-2008, 12:47 PM
The Red Cross statement very clearly confirms that they want to use their internet service for health and welfare messages, not an HF radio network; and the very limited role of amateurs is to help get information into the system as quickly and efficiently and with as little ham involvement as possible.

I don't see any other possible way to interpret it.
Agreed.

Note the many weasel words and weasel phrases in the statement.

Brush aside the extraneous and the meat of the statement is that they feel the only purpose for an on-site Amateur is to pass only the H&W messages that THEY deem acceptable -- and that they receiving Amateur is expected to enter those messages onto their web site. (Why? Presumably to force people to access their web site, and no doubt, be forced to deal with their "please donate!" screens). Should the Amateur on-site balk at these sorts of restrictions, federal rules such as HIPAA will be invoked.

It's all about control. Their control.

WA6MHZ
09-05-2008, 12:51 PM
Most of the complaints involving the Red Cross was that to be involved with them in message handling or emergency operations, you had to pass a strict backround check and even a credit check. Some people (on the lam?) objected to that. I know I read a form to sign up for a San Diego County ID card and it asked for my Social Security number. I DON'T THINK SO!!! The paper would pass through too many hands before it was shredded, and I worry there is atleast one crook in the link. Most of the Identity Theft these days are carried out by Meth addicts. So I refuse to give that number out regardless. And to run a Credit Check, that number is required.

Also, it sounds like the Red Cross might approve of using WINLINK for message handling, and we ALL know what most of the people on QRZ think about Winlink!
Winlink is the WORK OF THE DEVIL, so they say, even in Emergency Communications. Someone might have a casual PSK QSO disturbed by someone passing vital life and death traffic! So if Winlink is involved (and that is the mode of choice by the served agencies!) we can expect a vast outcry against it all.

AB0WR
09-05-2008, 01:34 PM
The Red Cross also processes welfare inquiry messages that contain specific medical information. These contain more sensitive and personally identifiable information at the same time that the Red Cross keeps confidential to respect client privacy. We are researching if and how these messages can be passed across open frequencies, and what federal restrictions (such as HIPPA) may be impact how this is done.

This is pure, unadulterated malarky! It is the worst kind of FUD.

It has been documented by the Feds numerous times in numerous documents that HIPPA only applies to entities that charge for medical services and simply does not apply in the case of emergencies which is where the amateur involvement would be in-play.

For the Red Cross "Disaster Service Technology Manager, American Red Cross" to not know this is unconscionable.

If the Red Cross wants to keep this information private THAT IS THEIR OWN DECISION. But they will also be forced to live with the consequences of this decision.

I just wish they would stop trying to hide behind HIPPA as a boogeyman!

tim ab0wr

NY7Q
09-05-2008, 01:58 PM
I agree with Tim AB0WR, he is 100 % correct. The problem with the Red Cross today, is that they(individuals) are too tied up in their positions/titles and want to push people around.
I was once a advocate of of the red cross, volunteered for everything. Today, I have absolutely no respect for the red cross.
I flew airplanes, ran communications setups, made sandwiches, delivered them, all for the cause, but just plain got tired of the little weasals and their supposed power over others.
The red cross is too big for its pants, and too many little weasels promoting their little power structures....Never again for me. :rolleyes:

K1CJS
09-05-2008, 03:03 PM
That 'clarification' didn't touch on the main point ham radio operators objected to--the background checks the red cross demanded from its volunteers. DEMANDED!

The statement is just more smoke to hide the real problem--how the bureaucracy wants to stick their noses into everything because of what is being demanded by the government.

If this country (the US) stopped thinking of itself as the worlds policeman, it would not be making so many enemies outside the country, and we wouldn't need to take such steps to make sure people who intend this country harm aren't in sensitive areas, simply because there wouldn't be so many outsiders who intend harm to this country.

KI4NGN
09-05-2008, 03:19 PM
Agreed.

Note the many weasel words and weasel phrases in the statement.

Brush aside the extraneous and the meat of the statement is that they feel the only purpose for an on-site Amateur is to pass only the H&W messages that THEY deem acceptable -- and that they receiving Amateur is expected to enter those messages onto their web site. (Why? Presumably to force people to access their web site, and no doubt, be forced to deal with their "please donate!" screens). Should the Amateur on-site balk at these sorts of restrictions, federal rules such as HIPAA will be invoked.

It's all about control. Their control.

Why is this a criticism? That organization has to follow HIPAA, and it's their butt in trouble, not the ops, if information is transmitted over the airwaves that should not have been.

Another poster balked about the information required by the Red Cross in order to assist them: no way he was providing that personal information, but then there is this criticism of the Red Cross for having exactly those same concerns about having some very personal information about many people transmitted for anyone to receive.

You have no idea how seriously organizations take HIPAA these days.

Mike

KI4NGN
09-05-2008, 03:23 PM
This is pure, unadulterated malarky! It is the worst kind of FUD.

It has been documented by the Feds numerous times in numerous documents that HIPPA only applies to entities that charge for medical services and simply does not apply in the case of emergencies which is where the amateur involvement would be in-play.

For the Red Cross "Disaster Service Technology Manager, American Red Cross" to not know this is unconscionable.

If the Red Cross wants to keep this information private THAT IS THEIR OWN DECISION. But they will also be forced to live with the consequences of this decision.

I just wish they would stop trying to hide behind HIPPA as a boogeyman!

tim ab0wr
I work for an company that does NOT provide medical services in any way, shape or form, yet we have medical information for hundreds of thousands of patients. HIPAA most certainly applies to my company.

I believe that is what is misunderstood is that while H&W messages may be transmitted during an emergency, they are in fact not emergency traffic.

Mike

KA4CKR
09-05-2008, 07:59 PM
Why is this a criticism? That organization has to follow HIPAA, and it's their butt in trouble, not the ops, if information is transmitted over the airwaves that should not have been.

Mike

Except that organization (Red Cross) is NOT covered by HIPAA because they do not bill patients electronically for services rendered. We just had a long and informative discussion on HIPAA, Red Cross, CERT and Amateur Radio in a certcomms listserv. It was brought out that, although many people think they know about HIPAA and who is covered, most people don't understand it. Here are a couple of links to determine your (or your agency's) standing in regards to HIPAA. These are from the Dept of Health and Human Services, which is the "enforcer" of HIPAA.

http://www.cms.hhs.gov/HIPAAGenInfo/Downloads/CoveredEntitycharts.pdf

http://www.cms.hhs.gov/HIPAAGenInfo/Downloads/HIPAALaw.pdf

If Red Cross feels like they are a covered entity, then there's not much we can do about that. However, if they studied the law and the charts, they would find that they are not under HIPAA so they worry about something that is really a non-issue.

In a nutshell, neither Red Cross, CERT, Amateur Radio nor many other volunteer agencies are considered "covered entities" under HIPAA because they do not bill "electronically". In fact, as I brought up in the certcomms list, if you are a country doctor and do all of your billing by snail mail, you are not a covered entity under HIPAA. The electronic billing is the part that sets apart those who are covered from those who are not.

Hope this helps clear some things up.

W3WN
09-05-2008, 08:29 PM
< snip >You have no idea how seriously organizations take HIPAA these days.

Mike

You are incorrect, sir. Where I work, HIPAA compliance is an everyday concern. Which makes it my concern. Every day.

HIPAA compliance, however, is being used as an excuse or a smokescreen when an organization does not wish to provide you with information. Which is another story.

And in this particular instance, the Red Cross people are waving HIPAA compliance as an excuse to prevent H&W traffic going to and from a disaster area. And by THAT I mean traffic like "I'm OK, we're all OK, and here's the shelter we're at" -- and similar traffic items that do not, now or ever, fall under the HIPAA guidelines.

Take it one step further. If I'm asked, not neccesarily by Red Cross staff, to set up a H&W communications station at a shelter... and handle that traffic over the air with no interaction from Red Cross staff... and am operating totally independant of the staff running the shelter (and possibly not actually IN it, but adjacent to it)... how can that possibly affect their actual legal requirements under HIPAA?

KI4NGN
09-05-2008, 08:35 PM
Except that organization (Red Cross) is NOT covered by HIPAA because they do not bill patients electronically for services rendered. We just had a long and informative discussion on HIPAA, Red Cross, CERT and Amateur Radio in a certcomms listserv. It was brought out that, although many people think they know about HIPAA and who is covered, most people don't understand it. Here are a couple of links to determine your (or your agency's) standing in regards to HIPAA. These are from the Dept of Health and Human Services, which is the "enforcer" of HIPAA.

http://www.cms.hhs.gov/HIPAAGenInfo/Downloads/CoveredEntitycharts.pdf

http://www.cms.hhs.gov/HIPAAGenInfo/Downloads/HIPAALaw.pdf

If Red Cross feels like they are a covered entity, then there's not much we can do about that. However, if they studied the law and the charts, they would find that they are not under HIPAA so they worry about something that is really a non-issue.

In a nutshell, neither Red Cross, CERT, Amateur Radio nor many other volunteer agencies are considered "covered entities" under HIPAA because they do not bill "electronically". In fact, as I brought up in the certcomms list, if you are a country doctor and do all of your billing by snail mail, you are not a covered entity under HIPAA. The electronic billing is the part that sets apart those who are covered from those who are not.

Hope this helps clear some things up.

Thanks for the information. I'm going to have to take this up with my company.

We process millions of patients' doctor and prescription claims, along with diagnosis information, for the purpose of analyzing the effectiveness of doctors and drugs that they prescribe. We most certainly do not provide any form of medical service, nor are patients in any way involved in this.

We probably have more collective information on patients than any other organization, private or commercial, and I can assure you that our company feels that it comes under HIPAA regulations and has substantial company policies guided by that belief.

Maybe our attorneys don't know what their talking about, or maybe, as is becoming more and more common, this is just a case of organizations covering their asses. :)

Even if it is the latter, you can't fault the Red Cross if that is the position they're taking: better safe than sorry.

Mike

KI4NGN
09-05-2008, 08:44 PM
You are incorrect, sir. Where I work, HIPAA compliance is an everyday concern. Which makes it my concern. Every day.

HIPAA compliance, however, is being used as an excuse or a smokescreen when an organization does not wish to provide you with information. Which is another story.

And in this particular instance, the Red Cross people are waving HIPAA compliance as an excuse to prevent H&W traffic going to and from a disaster area. And by THAT I mean traffic like "I'm OK, we're all OK, and here's the shelter we're at" -- and similar traffic items that do not, now or ever, fall under the HIPAA guidelines.

Take it one step further. If I'm asked, not neccesarily by Red Cross staff, to set up a H&W communications station at a shelter... and handle that traffic over the air with no interaction from Red Cross staff... and am operating totally independant of the staff running the shelter (and possibly not actually IN it, but adjacent to it)... how can that possibly affect their actual legal requirements under HIPAA?
The discussion relates to working WITH the Red Cross, not independent of them.

Why on earth would that organization want to prevent H&W messages from going out? What is happening, whether you feel it legitimate or not, is that they want to cover their ass for data that is transmitted to ensure that if it originates with them, it doesn't come back to haunt them. I don't blame them one bit in our litigious society.

Mike

N1OD
09-05-2008, 10:40 PM
I'm not too concerned about getting dissed by the Red Cross. They came to one of our ARES meetings a few years ago and told us that the proliferation of cell phones made our services largely unnecessary. Less than six months later a big storm came through. It knocked down most of the cell towers and all of the utility provided electricity. An ARES activation got things quickly squared away from a communications standpoint. A few days later the cell phones started coming back up. After two weeks most folks had their power back.

They assured us that it wouldn't happen again. They had double secret secret contingency plans.

Okey dokey.

I guess they're talking about that well oiled machine that sprung into action after Katrina.

When half the towers are down and the network is paralyzed with traffic, their laptops are discharged and their air cards can't connect, they'll make their way to where we live and ask for help. They won't have any trouble figuring out which doors to knock on. They know enough to look for a house where the lights are still on, antennas are hanging in the trees, and a generator is purring in the backyard.

Paul N1OD

KN4DS
09-05-2008, 10:56 PM
When half the towers are down and the network is paralyzed with traffic, their laptops are discharged and their air cards can't connect, they'll make their way to where we live and ask for help. They won't have any trouble figuring out which doors to knock on. They know enough to look for a house where the lights are still on, antennas are hanging in the trees, and a generator is purring in the backyard.
That's beautiful. It brings tears to my eyes.

The tears are from laughter, since it's so spot-on.

WA0LYK
09-06-2008, 01:04 AM
You are incorrect, sir. Where I work, HIPAA compliance is an everyday concern. Which makes it my concern. Every day.

HIPAA compliance, however, is being used as an excuse or a smokescreen when an organization does not wish to provide you with information. Which is another story.

And in this particular instance, the Red Cross people are waving HIPAA compliance as an excuse to prevent H&W traffic going to and from a disaster area. And by THAT I mean traffic like "I'm OK, we're all OK, and here's the shelter we're at" -- and similar traffic items that do not, now or ever, fall under the HIPAA guidelines.

Take it one step further. If I'm asked, not neccesarily by Red Cross staff, to set up a H&W communications station at a shelter... and handle that traffic over the air with no interaction from Red Cross staff... and am operating totally independant of the staff running the shelter (and possibly not actually IN it, but adjacent to it)... how can that possibly affect their actual legal requirements under HIPAA?

You hit the nail on the head. You'll notice from an ARC shelter, we are only authorized to handle THEIR traffic and enter it into their database. That IS NOT amateur radio health and welfare traffic.

They are using hipaa as a smokescreen to prevent amateurs from handling INDEPENDENT health and welfare traffic from their shelters. Not even NTS messages such as ARL 1, 2, 4, 6, etc. are authorized to be solicited, sent, and delivered solely by amateur radio operators at ARC shelters. These have nothing to do with MEDICAL information and don't even have to include anything but a first name as a signature. ANYONE who uses hipaa as a smokescreen to not allow these is either a control freak who doesn't know what they are talking about, or are using it as a smokescreen for their own purposes. I suspect that the ARC has a lot of both. God forbid it should get out that ham radio can pass messages such as these for free and prevent the ARC from receiving funding from the government for their own health and welfare system. Follow the money and you'll know the answer.

Jim
WA0LYK

W3WN
09-06-2008, 05:13 AM
The discussion relates to working WITH the Red Cross, not independent of them.

Why on earth would that organization want to prevent H&W messages from going out? What is happening, whether you feel it legitimate or not, is that they want to cover their ass for data that is transmitted to ensure that if it originates with them, it doesn't come back to haunt them. I don't blame them one bit in our litigious society.

Mike
Working with the Red Cross often means doing things their way. Or the highway.

You did read, earlier in the thread and in related posts, that the Red Cross wants ALL H&W traffic to be sent from one amateur inside to another outside of the emergency area... and that outside amateur will be required to post the messages to the ARC web site for 3rd parties to find.

What is not permitted is for the "inside" amateur to distribute the messages by any other means.

"Why on earth" would the ARC want to prevent H&W messages from going out? Good question. You should ask them.

Keep in mind that I'm referring to H&W traffic (of the "We're all OK" nature, mind you) not falling within HIPAA guidelines -- as others have also pointed out. Now, other data (not H&W related) may or may not fall under HIPAA; I have insufficient data to evaluate all contingencies.

Is it possible that some ARC lawyer has decreed that it's easier to simply classify ALL ARC traffic in & out of an emergency situation as falling under HIPAA, and thus covering their legal assets without requiring any thought? In short... Zero Tolerance via HIPAA is being applied? (Paging K0RCC!) That's merely a guess on my part, but it makes sense, in a warped way.

KI4NGN
09-06-2008, 10:26 AM
Is it possible that some ARC lawyer has decreed that it's easier to simply classify ALL ARC traffic in & out of an emergency situation as falling under HIPAA, and thus covering their legal assets without requiring any thought? In short... Zero Tolerance via HIPAA is being applied? (Paging K0RCC!) That's merely a guess on my part, but it makes sense, in a warped way.
Not at all warped. It's much easier just establish a zero tolerance policy as you suggest than it is to monitor everything going out.

As far as the Red Cross controlling message traffic originating from their shelters, including having some sort of vetting for those who will handle those messages, I can't understand why this is such a nefarious notion to anyone.

I think that some hams resist the conclusion that we're not really needed anymore. Another poster said:


When half the towers are down and the network is paralyzed with traffic, their laptops are discharged and their air cards can't connect, they'll make their way to where we live and ask for help.

Sure it's true, but it's a jab that's slightly off the mark.

In the past there were no cell phones and supporting towers, laptops, or internet. The only network belong to Ma Bell, it was mostly land-line based, above ground, and went the way of power lines in disaster areas. Ham ops were very much needed.

The fact is that there are cells phones, supporting towers everywhere that rarely come down, and sattelite comms. There are multiple networks supporting the telephone infrastructure, and there is the internet with easy access for just about everyone.

Hams sent messages all over the place in the past because that was the most direct route to get a message to its destination.

Think about someone coming to a shelter, looking for a misplaced loved one. They don't just wander around the place searching, they check a registration of everyone who is in the shelter. Not finding them registered they may still search, that's natural, but that will be the first thing checked.

Now think about those H&W messages today. It's entirely possible at disaster sites that there may still be internet connectivity, but quite possibly with very limited bandwidth. Rather than consume bandwidth by posting H&W messages, it makes a lot of sense for a ham to relay the messages to another ham, offsite, to get those messages to a website using totally unrelated network connections. You don't need more than one ham for that purpose outside of the disaster area, and it makes no sense to connect to more than one ham with that purpose in mind. The website becomes similar to the shelter registration: anyone looking for information about or from someone within the disaster area can just visit the website.

This makes perfect sense if you look at it from the Red Cross's perspective.

Hams need to get over the fact that we're just not needed as we once were. That's NOT saying that we can't be useful, that's NOT saying that there won't ever be a situation where we're the only means of communication. It's saying that what used to be common is now rare, and technology available to everyone has removed the common need for us.

Mike

NN4RH
09-06-2008, 12:06 PM
So, basically, Red Cross only needs/wants one Red Cross person who also is a ham per shelter, plus a handful outside the "affected area" (I hate that term) who have internet access.

It looks like Army MARS is taking over backup communications support for the federal government.

Local/state ARES groups seem to have the local/state backup & emergency communications support well in hand.

Meanwhile, ARRL tells everyone not to "self deploy" unless requested by a "served agency" that they are affiliated with.

So doesn't all that add up to mean that there should be no independent ham health & welfare communications operations in the Affected Area?

Well, unless you happen to live there already, and either cannot or refuse to work with a "served agency", or to communicate with other hams that are working with those agencies or with MARS. Then I suppose it would be an option to originate health & welfare messages into the National Traffic System, and take your chances that your message will be one of the 80 percent that make it through.

WA0LYK
09-06-2008, 12:47 PM
Not at all warped. It's much easier just establish a zero tolerance policy as you suggest than it is to monitor everything going out.

As far as the Red Cross controlling message traffic originating from their shelters, including having some sort of vetting for those who will handle those messages, I can't understand why this is such a nefarious notion to anyone.

Why would the ARC need to monitor everything going out? I can even understand the ARC taking the position that only specific preprinted ARL messages could be sent in order to protect themselves legally. However, restricting ham traffic to handling ONLY ARC traffic is denying amateurs the ability to meet one of the tenants of the "basis and purpose" of the entire service.

Heck I could even understand the ARC requiring a sign to be put up like "NOT A SERVICE PROVIDED BY THE RED CROSS - USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!" But to deny a group providing a public service the ability to provide that service directly to the public is flat out based upon greed. The ARC simply does not want anyone or anything to be done that they can't take credit for. There is no other way to catagorize it.


I think that some hams resist the conclusion that we're not really needed anymore. Another poster said:



Sure it's true, but it's a jab that's slightly off the mark.

In the past there were no cell phones and supporting towers, laptops, or internet. The only network belong to Ma Bell, it was mostly land-line based, above ground, and went the way of power lines in disaster areas. Ham ops were very much needed.

The fact is that there are cells phones, supporting towers everywhere that rarely come down, and sattelite comms. There are multiple networks supporting the telephone infrastructure, and there is the internet with easy access for just about everyone.

Hams sent messages all over the place in the past because that was the most direct route to get a message to its destination.

Think about someone coming to a shelter, looking for a misplaced loved one. They don't just wander around the place searching, they check a registration of everyone who is in the shelter. Not finding them registered they may still search, that's natural, but that will be the first thing checked.

Now think about those H&W messages today. It's entirely possible at disaster sites that there may still be internet connectivity, but quite possibly with very limited bandwidth. Rather than consume bandwidth by posting H&W messages, it makes a lot of sense for a ham to relay the messages to another ham, offsite, to get those messages to a website using totally unrelated network connections. You don't need more than one ham for that purpose outside of the disaster area, and it makes no sense to connect to more than one ham with that purpose in mind. The website becomes similar to the shelter registration: anyone looking for information about or from someone within the disaster area can just visit the website.

This makes perfect sense if you look at it from the Red Cross's perspective.

Hams need to get over the fact that we're just not needed as we once were. That's NOT saying that we can't be useful, that's NOT saying that there won't ever be a situation where we're the only means of communication. It's saying that what used to be common is now rare, and technology available to everyone has removed the common need for us.

Mike

Not being needed is an entirely different issue. If the ARC would simply say that we don't need help from amateur radio in providing communications to the people in shelters then one could understand their position. You'll notice however that doing this would place them in a precarious position which they won't want to do either. If amateur radio is NEEDED to carry the ARC traffic, then it is a logical conclusion that the public using their shelter NEED alternate means of communications too. And herein lies the problem!

Look at it from Joe Public's point of view. When amateur radio is the only means of communication at a shelter, the ARC is DENYING Joe the ability to access an alternate means of communications. They are saying "Use our database or use nothing!" Is this serving the public?

Jim
WA0LYK

W6GQ
09-06-2008, 01:25 PM
Who is this?

Keith Robertory
Disaster Service Technology Manager, American Red Cross
KG4UIR

I cannot find his name anywhere on the redcross web site?

http://www.redcross.org/index.html

Can he be providing an official "Statement" For the American Red Cross?

I do not see this "statement" anywhere on the American Red Cross web page including "A list of our most recent press releases"

http://www.redcross.org/press/0,1079,0_314_,00.html

I call BS on this and fault the ARRL as well for not "verifying" the "statement" if this person is not an "OFFICIAL" spokesperson for the American Red Cross.

NN4RH
09-06-2008, 01:29 PM
Who is this?

Keith Robertory
Disaster Service Technology Manager, American Red Cross
KG4UIR

I cannot find his name anywhere on the redcross web site?

http://www.redcross.org/index.html

Can he be providing an official "Statement" For the American Red Cross?

I do not see this "statement" anywhere on the American Red Cross web page including "A list of our most recent press releases"

http://www.redcross.org/press/0,1079,0_314_,00.html

I call BS on this and fault the ARRL as well for not "verifying" the "statement" if this person is not an "OFFICIAL" spokesperson for the American Red Cross.


Try Googling "Robertory Red Cross".

W6GQ
09-06-2008, 01:32 PM
I cannot find Amateur radio or any amateur radio organizations listed on their site of "Look who's helping"

http://www.redcross.org/sponsors/helping.html

maybe I am just missing it?

WA6MHZ
09-06-2008, 03:06 PM
Over here, Red Cross tried to get ARES to commit to total involvement with them, and pass ONLY their traffic. ARES balked at that, as there are many served agencies that need our help (Cal Fire, EMS Hospitals, Salvation Army, etc.) so Hams are spread pretty thin in a disaster. Then there are the large number of Hams who are dedicated to RACES tasks, which help Law Enforcement and Government services. So Red Cross felt they were being SHINED ON, and went out and developed their OWN Ham force. Red Cross personell were given license classes and passed the tests. Now, they are ready to handle the Red Cross traffic while ARES and RACES can concentrate on other Agencies. I helped Red Cross during the Cedar fire in 2003 at a disaster relief center, but I was mostly doing survivor registration and processing, and did very little on-the-air communications for it. The only Radio work I did was for some Churches that were sending in supplies and workers.
Most of the Red Cross radio work was done on their private 47 Mhz frequencies.

N1OD
09-06-2008, 03:09 PM
Sure it's true, but it's a jab that's slightly off the mark.

In the past there were no cell phones and supporting towers, laptops, or internet. The only network belong to Ma Bell, it was mostly land-line based, above ground, and went the way of power lines in disaster areas. Ham ops were very much needed.

The fact is that there are cells phones, supporting towers everywhere that rarely come down, and sattelite comms. There are multiple networks supporting the telephone infrastructure, and there is the internet with easy access for just about everyone.

Listen, I understand how cell phones, the internet, computers, and other means of communicating information works. I also just told you that I saw first hand how such a system failed, and the entire world saw what happened during Katrina.

There are better ways to communicate information than Amateur radio. When all of the above mentioned services are up and running, they combine to make an awesome tool in an emergency.

However, your assertion that cell towers hardly ever come down and the internet is a perpetually uninterruptible means of communication is ridiculous.

Big storms and natural disasters tear down the infrastructure that these modes of communication rely on, and you know it. Been there, done that.

Paul N1OD

W6GQ
09-06-2008, 03:26 PM
Try Googling "Robertory Red Cross".

Thats fine, I still do not see anything that shows this is an official statement from the American Red Cross.

This is important because it may show the ARC (American Red Cross) is or is not interested in amateur radio help.

Sure, the local ARC near the author of that statement may "endorse" amateur radio, but his statement "presumes" the ENTIRE ARC does indeed need the support of amateurs. All I am asking is if this person can make THAT statement?

KI4NGN
09-06-2008, 10:40 PM
However, restricting ham traffic to handling ONLY ARC traffic is denying amateurs the ability to meet one of the tenants of the "basis and purpose" of the entire service.

Jim
WA0LYK
I won't debate the rest of this further other than to point out that if it's their shelter, then it's their rules. If you don't like them, then don't play; they don't need you anyway, which is what is really pissing everyone off.

I will point out that you are misquoting the rules relating to our purpose.

The rules do NOT say that we exist TO provide these services, but that it is recognized that we may.

Mike

KI4NGN
09-06-2008, 10:48 PM
Listen, I understand how cell phones, the internet, computers, and other means of communicating information works. I also just told you that I saw first hand how such a system failed, and the entire world saw what happened during Katrina.

There are better ways to communicate information than Amateur radio. When all of the above mentioned services are up and running, they combine to make an awesome tool in an emergency.

However, your assertion that cell towers hardly ever come down and the internet is a perpetually uninterruptible means of communication is ridiculous.

Big storms and natural disasters tear down the infrastructure that these modes of communication rely on, and you know it. Been there, done that.

Paul N1OD
I never said anything was perpetual, and the fact is that cell towers hardly ever do come down. You name an extraordinary exception even by disaster standards and use that to justify what? Just how much redundancy is needed? You think lessons weren't learned from Katrina? You think that by the time the ARC has shelters set up that they have no means of communicating from those shelters with those outside of the disaster area?

Some of you guys just must live on hubris, cannot accept the fact that we are just not needed as we once were. Get over it and enjoy your hobby, or get a different hobby.

Mike

N1OD
09-07-2008, 01:48 AM
Nice chatting with you Mike.

N1OD

N4XTS
09-07-2008, 05:34 PM
HIPAA issues aside, the Red Cross is a served agency. They can set whatever rules and procedures they desire. In ICS, one will know where their place is in the command structure. Working for a served agency means doing things THEIR WAY. If one does not agree, don't sign up to work for them.

Amateur radio can still be a great resource, but the days of hams coming in from "outside" to be communicators are dwindling. Advancing technology in commercial communications, HIPPA, etc are all showing us that we as the amateur community need to adapt.

At our hospital system where I am employed which is one of the major health systems in metro Atlanta, it will be a cold day in hell before we bring untrained outsiders in to handle sensitive patient information and be in secure areas. However, getting employees within our the system to get their ham licenses and installing a station for backup use and Skywarn, etc is something we are looking into.

The idea of hams coming from "outside" is long over. The future is bringing amateur radio to the "inside" of public safety and served agencies. Our challenge is to step up and train new operators within these agencies, assist governments and served agencies with setting up stations, etc.

KI4ITV
09-07-2008, 09:57 PM
At our hospital system where I am employed which is one of the major health systems in metro Atlanta, it will be a cold day in hell before we bring untrained outsiders in to handle sensitive patient information and be in secure areas. However, getting employees within our the system to get their ham licenses and installing a station for backup use and Skywarn, etc is something we are looking into.

The idea of hams coming from "outside" is long over. The future is bringing amateur radio to the "inside" of public safety and served agencies. Our challenge is to step up and train new operators within these agencies, assist governments and served agencies with setting up stations, etc.

...And this is exactly what is wrong with the current attitude about emergency communications and amateur radio. Frankly, I don't think the hobby should be used this way; as a supplement or cure for a known problem with professional/commercial communications systems.

I've noticed the rise in "professional" licensees here. It is really a sad state of affairs we find ourselves in, our hobby and avocation are being absorbed from within by the shortcomings of other services.

It is really a cost saving measure by the agencies and should be iilegal as implemented, Hell, if they can't do their own radio systems right, what makes them think using our frequencies are going to work any better for them?

Same people-same problem. Amateurs in the past have been good at radio because they care enough to be good when it doesn't matter to anyone else.

But, as always...just my opinion.

KC0OFZ
09-07-2008, 10:37 PM
I never said anything was perpetual, and the fact is that cell towers hardly ever do come down. You name an extraordinary exception even by disaster standards and use that to justify what? Just how much redundancy is needed? You think lessons weren't learned from Katrina? You think that by the time the ARC has shelters set up that they have no means of communicating from those shelters with those outside of the disaster area?

Some of you guys just must live on hubris, cannot accept the fact that we are just not needed as we once were. Get over it and enjoy your hobby, or get a different hobby.

Mike

Mike
Some will simply not accept that AR is anything less than the main common carrier for ALL emergency services. AR afterall is the only service that has NO limits (volume included) to what it can handle, and afterall will NEVER fail. We are told that AR can easily replace an entire phone system, landline and cellular for an entire area. AR will have no problem replacing the internet and will have no problem handling the volume of information that the internet can handle.
How dare some think that AR is not the only game in town and that lessons are in fact learned by other services through experience. Afterall listening to some here it would lead us to believe that only hams know how to run a generator and keep lights on. No other service has the experience nor knowledge to be of service in a disaster that AR and a few hams do.

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