EMCOMM Questions For QRZ

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by AF4LY, May 26, 2018.

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  1. AF4LY

    AF4LY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have read some old Emcomm threads and I am confused with what the anti-Emcomm crowd’s MO is.

    So some questions:

    I don’t think most people realize there are a number of civilian auxiliaries deployed in emergencies—e.g. CERT, State Defense Force, CAP, Coast Guard Auxillary, etc.

    I can never figure out if the anti-Emcomm crowd is against all civilian auxillaries working in an emergencies? Or just Hams? Or even Amatuer Radio being part of these auxillaries?

    It’s important to know, Amateur Radio is part of the Comm plan of CERT and CGA (and with that being said FEMA in general) among other things in the Comm portfolio. An EOC will usually balance that portfolio as seen fit.

    It seems some are even against the idea of even spending a small amount of left over FEMA grant money on Amateur equipment. Even after most part 90 systems has been hardened. Notice I NEVER said spending Amatuer equipment INSTEAD of Part 90. Am I correct in thinking that?

    With that being said, FEMA seems to put a lot of value in AR EMCOMM. (See Craig Fugate’s comments). I have to wonder if Amateur Radio has no business in disasters (or that’s the received among some on here), why does FEMA put a lot of value on it?

    Not criticizing anyone. I am not a part of ARES right now. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
    K2NCC likes this.
  2. KB1PA

    KB1PA Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Many of those that are anti volunteers in EmComm are current or past Public Safety Professionals who have experienced the "whacker" element. They feel that the volunteers
    are taking jobs away from paid professionals and that volunteers get in the way of the
    mission. These folks have never seen how "professional" volunteers operate, and refuse to
    believe volunteers can sometime perform as well as full time pros. They forget that volunteers are part of the fabric of our society, and that todays pros are standing on the backs of past volunteers.

    Yes, some of the complaints are legitimate, but "whackers" are difficult to weed out.

    99% of volunteers perform and act professionally. They are supportive of the full time pros and are only volunteering to support them, not take their jobs.
    AF4LY, KC8VWM and W9BFZ like this.
  3. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    You paint with a broad brush and stereotype hams who have differing opinions about emergency communications.

    Ever since amateur radio helped out in the 1936 New England Floods US hams have had aspirations of helping their neighbors in time of emergency; a noble goal.

    However preparation for unannounced, "come as you are" disasters is an ongoing, tedious, repetitious and boring exercise. Few are motivated to continue for more than a year or two. Fewer have the correct ICS and AR message forms or have practiced formal traffic origination, handling and delivery.

    After 9/11, ARRL marketed emergency communications to the public in an unrealistic manner in order to attract new licensees. We aren't going to save the world. We have extremely limited traffic load capability and don't have established service points. We aren't a 'reliable' backup means of communications.

    I think very few hams are absolutely against ham participation or preparation for emergencies. Rather, the attitude is that hams should approach this sector of the hobby with realistic expectations and moderation for personal abilities, equipment and the necessarily limited capability of the amateur radio as a whole.
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
    KB3FEI, NL7W, WG7X and 6 others like this.
  4. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    There are several things involved:

    First of all, in the recent past, the ARRL was promoting EMCOMM as "the" reason for getting an amateur radio operator's license. Basically, this was a "you can save the world using amateur radio" promotion and, unfortunately, a significant number of newcomers bought into that concept even though the promotion was really an attempt to garner more ARRL members to replace those who had quit being members for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, a fair number of these new EMCOMM operators never even get on the air!

    Yes, there are organizations that do utilize amateur radio communications. However, most of those communications are of the "health and welfare" type and not "first line" responder communications.

    It is unfortunate, but there are a significant number of public safety officer "wannabees" who go so far as to outfit vehicles to resemble first responder vehicles with "viz bars", decals, numerous radios, and so forth. They often wear orange or yellow vests with "official" amateur radio operator badges, ARES or RACES patches, and so forth. In addition, they usually have at least, often several, portable transceivers hanging from their belt.

    These types often "show up" at true emergency situations often demanding to be used for critical communications when that situation is well in hand. Basically, those operators just get into the way of first responders and other necessary personnel giving amateur radio a bad name.

    It is also unfortunate, but there are a significant number of communities that now ban amateur radio operation from their emergency plans usually because of the actions of a relatively few "EMCOMM" zealots who have presented amateur radio in a very bad light.

    In days past, when r.f. devices were not in the hands of virtually every adult, as well as a significant number of children, there was a definite need for amateur radio communications. However, things have changed and, in the vast number of true emergencies, amateur radio communications are just not needed.

    Glen, K9STH
    (who, as a teenager, was the EC for LaPorte County, Indiana)
    K4KYV, VE6NS, W5PB and 15 others like this.
  5. W9BFZ

    W9BFZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I could be wrong, but I don't think it is so much an "anti-emcomm" attitude as it is an "anti-whacker" attitude. Puerto Rico showed that amateur operators can still play a roll in post emergency situations. But then you get the hi-vis and flip flops crowd that have 27 radios on their belts, lights on their cars, and try to pretend they are something they aren't. They show up without being called upon, make fools of themselves and give the rest a bad name.

    I wanted to get involved with Skywarn in my area. I've seen first hand what a tornado can do. If I can help get the word to people faster, then I want to. But all anybody I approach about it locally (or regionally) wants to do is talk about some big kerfuffle in the past. I don't care about 5-10 years ago. I care about tomorrow.
    NL7W likes this.
  6. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    A paradigm shift in the last decade: "Put communications in the hands of the users!' ...and get the communicators out of the way.

    We as communicators should not try to insert ourselves where we are not needed. We are not 'important". We are a bottleneck in information flow if other means are available.

    In the last 20 years, after disasters and major emergencies, there has been a repeated lack of need for large scale formal message traffic! Why?

    Cell phones, text messaging, Cell cameras, Cell video, internet, Fax, Face Book "I'm safe", FRS, GMRS, CB, Satphones, GPS Trackers, PLB's, 409 ELT/EPIRB's, Red Cross Mobile Comms, Salvation Army SATERN, mobile cell sites, Weather radios, Police digital networking, Drones with Video, 911/Reverse 911, have all reduced the need for our services. This is a good thing since we are severely limited in capability.
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
    W5BIB likes this.
  7. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I wouldn't call myself anti-emcom by any means, so I'll let those people speak for themselves. I do believe I should have the ability to operate a portable station on battery power, and if circumstances arise where it would be useful, I should use it to help my community.

    But I have met a few of the "whacker" types who seem to have unrealistic expectations of what role Amateur radio will play in the next disaster. Here are some of the themes I've heard expressed:
    1. Radio will save the day, above all else. No, communications is one factor in helping out in an emergency, and it will help the authorities understand what's going on, and where to deploy their resources. But communications isn't always primary. First aid, care for trauma victims, ability to procure water, shelter, food, sanitation, proper clothing appropriate for weather conditions, these are all at least as important as electronics, if not more so. When you think about what role communications will play in an emergency, ask yourself whom you plan to call, and how will they be able to help you?
    2. Amateur radio will work when all else fails. Amateur radio isn't always more reliable than other radio services. Amateur radios repeaters will go down if their power is interrupted, or if their antennas are blown down. Many of them are even co-located with part 90 repeaters, and share the same vulnerabilities. A $30 Baofeng isn't automatically more reliable than a $500 Motorola just because the Baofeng is being operated under part 97.
    3. If it's not Amateur Radio, I'm not doing it! There are Amateur radio proponents who don't own or use a smartphone, or don't like the use of the Internet. For hobby communications, of course you should use what you want, and there's no need to justify what it is that provides enjoyment to you. But if you want to be a communicator that helps out your community, you should know how to use every means available to get a message through. That includes amateur radio, of course, but also the various Part 95 services, Part 90 services, smart phones (if they're working) messengers on foot or bicycle, etc.
    4. Radio is a rare and valuable skill that makes me important. No, every single firefighter, police officer, airplane pilot, and truck driver knows how to operate a radio, and most of them don't think the radio aspect is a huge part of their job. There are some parts of our hobby (CW, building, repair, etc.) that sometimes require rare skills and/or a fair bit of talent or training. But the ability to pick up a microphone and push the PTT button isn't one of them. The police department isn't going to ask amateur radio operators to ride along in all the squad cars using their HTs with mag-mount antennas to help the police out.
    KB2SMS, NL7W, AF4LY and 3 others like this.
  8. KB1PA

    KB1PA Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Todays Ham Emcomm volunteers are trained and agree to the main fact that Hams are not first, second or even 3d responders, We are No responders, just backup communicators. We train with first second and third tier responders, so they know who we are and know what do for them.

    As far as "Whackers", a long time ago there was an agreement made with the local Sheriff that they would be given a special "secret" assignment. They were assigned to go to the County Sheriffs HQ building, where they would be told to report to a "special" room, and once inside, they would get special processing (which I was told got them all excited) and were then sent to a large holding cell until the end of the event.

    Part of our problem is Hams are getting older (not younger), and can't to what they did 20 years ago. Same with local CERT teams and other volunteer groups. Its not cool or desirable to volunteer for anything today. The other part, as you said, it tech had advanced, and our role has been scaled back (but not eliminated). Their still is an important role for backup communicators).
    NL7W likes this.
  9. KK4YWN

    KK4YWN Ham Member QRZ Page

    If hating whackers is wrong i dont wanna be right.
    K4PIH, KD5RJZ, K3DCW and 1 other person like this.
  10. K0IDT

    K0IDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I asked the question of what FEMA gets out of the MOU with ARRL a long time ago, no answer. FEMA doesn't value the service as much as the spectrum, never a good thing to crawl into bed with any fed agency., witness the number
    of "official" agency types getting licensed.

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