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Thread: Hospital Hams ? Did the Sky Fall ?

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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Pownal, Vermont and North Arlington, NJ
    Posts
    545

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    Quote Originally Posted by WN9HJW View Post
    It's been over two years now since the FCC amended Part 97 to make it OK for certain hams to use amateur radio as part of their job.

    Prior to that, it was prohibited to use ham radio where there was a "pecuniary interest"; and that includes hams that work for places like hospitals, the rules prohibiting ham radio being part of their job.

    Use of amateur radio during an actual emergency was already allowed anyway. So the real regulatory issue was participation in drills and excercise, as part of their job.

    This was Proceeding WP 10-72 back in 2010. It was a HUGE controversy at the time, and some of us, including myself, felt that allowing this change would lead to the demise of ham radio as a hobby activity as we know it, that the "whacker" crowd would take over the hobby, that ham radio would be used by businesses of all descriptions as a cheap alternative to the proper Part 90 systems, and all sorts of other dire consequences and abuse of amateur radio.

    What the FCC ended up doing is adding the following paragraph to Part 97:

    97.113 Prohibited transmissions.
    (a) * * *
    (3) Communications in which the station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest, including
    communications on behalf of an employer, with the following exceptions:
    (i) A station licensee or control station operator may participate on behalf of an employer in an
    emergency preparedness or disaster readiness test or drill, limited to the duration and scope of such test or
    drill, and operational testing immediately prior to such test or drill. Tests or drills that are not
    government-sponsored are limited to a total time of one hour per week; except that no more than twice in
    any calendar year, they may be conducted for a period not to exceed 72 hours.



    So. After the Report and Order in July 2010, we never heard any more about it. Are there such drills going on? Any known abuse of the rules? Or did the hospitals and others lose interest in ham radio?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    There was a grant for a free radio to any hospital in NJ who had a licensed ham ready to spring into action in case needed. So, the security deparment in the hospital where I work sent a guard to class to get licensed. Shortly thereafter, he did (this was about two years ago) and now is awaiting the "free" radio. Well, it never came and the guy's never been on the air (nor does he want to.)

    de NK2U

    de NK2U

  2. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC8VWM View Post
    The problem is specifically defining what "emergency communication" involvement in a hospital setting is to hams exactly?

    For example, I had former involvement in the operation of the hospital disaster response team at the hospital I was employed. I recall, I had a list of ham operators I could utilize listed in our disaster response manual for the purpose of calling them for the purpose of "emergency communications." However, what was missing in this manual was the idea, that nothing was specifically defined in terms what they could, or could not do, for us exactly. It was just a single page called "Ham Operators" that had a list of names and telephone numbers.

    All I knew was the fact they were "available" to call in and use if need be. Hey, since you're a ham, perhaps you can tell me, do you have any idea what I could have possibly used these "Ham Operators" for exactly? I know I am probably 15 years late in asking you this question though...

    So fast forward to 2012, to this message forum, and after reading your comments... Are there any precise parameters laid out to hospital administrators in advance, which specifically define our roles in the healthcare setting? Or are we just telling them our phone numbers and we are available to save the day without any set of specific or defined roles sort of thing??

    Sincerely..
    This is my point exactly, well stated. It's great to have this EMCOMM "utopian" idea. But in the real world if roles aren't clearly defined, it serves no purpose and becomes another unused resource. Anyone who has taken ICS100 should understand the basic fundamentals of roles of volunteers in disasters. Just having ham radio equipment and a list of contacts to man a station doesn't really amount to much for "when all else fails".

    If one wishes to be a resource and actually SERVE others and not themselves, then they should get the appropriate training and get in where they fit in, so to speak, and not try to insert themselves where they wish. After all, is one wishing to truly be an asset or just get recognition? What is in it for ham radio one asked? If you have to ask, you're in this for the wrong reasons.

    Furthermore, if those lists of names and phone numbers is all in an emergency plan, of what good is this if the phones are down, a most likely scenario if a "when all else fails" or major disaster has occurred? Self dispatching? Again, an uncoordinated response can prove more to hinder, than help. Seems to me like having folks who happen to be hams around who are capable and licensed to operate said equipment can make use of the radios to contact the local ARES/EMCOMM folks to let them know we need help and what the extent of the situation is. After all, if we can't call you, how will you "just know"? Got Miss Cleo on speed dial? Oh that's right, cell is down. Work her on 20?

    If one doesn't know their roles, and have the training mentioned and know the inner workings of the facility, and what internal support roles are, then they aren't going to be much of a resource when needed.

    But that calls to question, is one willing to serve or just do what they personally want to do? No room for the latter in a real disaster. It's not "what can you do for ham radio, but what can ham radio do for the community"

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Rochester, MN
    Posts
    20,107

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    Quote Originally Posted by KE7ZOE View Post
    Clear as mud.

    I'm not allowed to use it, but I am allowed to use it. It's the only (US) amateur repeater in my area and it's silent most of the time.

    I can hear lots of Canadian repeaters, they don't have this issue at all. Thiers are used by amateurs everyday.
    There's nothing in the rules to prevent you from using it, but each repeater owner/trustee/control operator has the authority to tell you not to use it if they don't want you to. You will find that there are no hard and fast rules. I think if you have a ham repeater set up for emergencies, it's a good idea to get people to use it all the time so you know it's going to work. But, there are some that want the 'emergency' repeater to be quiet except in a real emergency because they monitor it all day long. I think the latter is a waste of a repeater pair, but that's just my opinion, and I'm sure there are thousands out there.
    EchoLink, IRLP, Allstar and DSTAR linking - adding interest to repeaters worldwide 24X7

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Rochester, MN
    Posts
    20,107

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC8VWM View Post
    The problem is specifically defining what "emergency communication" involvement in a hospital setting is to hams exactly?

    For example, I had former involvement in the operation of the hospital disaster response team at the hospital I was employed. I recall, I had a list of ham operators I could utilize listed in our disaster response manual for the purpose of calling them for the purpose of "emergency communications." However, what was missing in this manual was the idea, that nothing was specifically defined in terms what they could, or could not do, for us exactly. It was just a single page called "Ham Operators" that had a list of names and telephone numbers.

    All I knew was the fact they were "available" to call in and use if need be. Hey, since you're a ham, perhaps you can tell me, do you have any idea what I could have possibly used these "Ham Operators" for exactly? I know I am probably 15 years late in asking you this question though...

    So fast forward to 2012, to this message forum, and after reading your comments... Are there any precise parameters laid out to hospital administrators in advance, which specifically define our roles in the healthcare setting? Or are we just telling them our phone numbers and we are available to save the day without any set of specific or defined roles sort of thing??

    Sincerely..
    Yes, in the majority of cases I know about, these things are specifically defined, but usually in a way that's flexible enough to fit the situation.

    In recent years, hams have been called out to assist hospitals where software crashes brought down their internal telephone system, so it isn't just natural disasters where they might have a role. Here locally, at our biggest hospitals, hams are expected to help with any evacuation, at defined locations, and they have hospital IDs to get them there. They are also there to provide communications between hospitals in a disaster that takes out other comm facilities. In the Twin Cities, the major hospitals have much more elaborate ham stations, with regular monthly drills involving both outside volunteers, staff, and communication with outlying hospital facilities.

    To deal with HIPAA, the hospital should have a detailed plan for using ham radio, if no secure means is available, and under what circumstances they might be asked to transmit confidential information (not a likely scenario) over an unsecured channel.
    EchoLink, IRLP, Allstar and DSTAR linking - adding interest to repeaters worldwide 24X7

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Jacuzzi
    Posts
    12,354

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    Quote Originally Posted by K0RGR View Post
    To deal with HIPAA, the hospital should have a detailed plan for using ham radio, if no secure means is available, and under what circumstances they might be asked to transmit confidential information (not a likely scenario) over an unsecured channel.
    HIPPA is not only about "secured channels" It about who gets, or who doesn't get to handle the PIH (Protected Heath Information) If a ham operator isn't a member of the heath care staff who is providing the patient treatment, then it places legal liability with the ham radio organization involved.

    Even as hospital staff members, we are cautioned to avoid things like leaving computer screens left on displaying information, leaving charts laying around unattended, visitors in close proximity who may be overhearing.

    Do all the ham operators wear headphones and operate stations away from other people who may be listening to them speaking to meet such HIPPA requirements? What happens if someone in the waiting room at the hospital or command center etc..hears something a ham operator says, and then tells other people what they overheard? ...I am suspecting the combination of an upset family member and a good lawyer would have a proverbial field day with that scenario.
    73 de Charles - KC8VWM
    North American QRP CW Club #3159, SKCC# 5752

  6. #46

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    And yet there is no guarantee of privacy so it's really all for naught.

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