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Monitoring and emergency transmission on forbidden frequencies

Discussion in 'VHF/UHF - 50Mhz and Beyond' started by KM6UTP, Jun 23, 2018.

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  1. W1GHD

    W1GHD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yeah, I figured that’s where you were going.

    I would say that a communications plan that consists of using unauthorized radio frequencies doesn’t meet the spirit of the regulation.

    It’s one thing to find yourself in an emergency situation with no other mean of communications. Purposely putting yourself into harm’s way, specifically intending to use unauthorized frequencies is an entirely different matter.
  2. ND5Y

    ND5Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    If some unknown unauthorized user shows up on a public safety radio system claiming to have an emergency do you think the dispatchers and other legitimate users are going to believe it? They will probably think it's a hoax.
    AI7PM likes this.
  3. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Where are you intending to go? What are the communication options in that area? Cell systems are so widespread now that they have some surprisingly good coverage depending on the region and terrain. Satellite will work almost everywhere except, as I mentioned, under a dense canopy or other such location with restricted sky visibility.

    How far away will you be from help? In what terrain and weather? Something that is an emergency requiring unusual communications in one situation probably wouldn't be in another.

    One thing you can be sure of. If you transmit on a public service frequency for what you think is an emergency, it will be thoroughly investigated. If it's found that you had other communications options, or that the situation wasn't really an emergency, you will almost certainly be prosecuted. The authorities do not take kindly to unauthorized and unwarranted use of their frequencies.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
    WQ4G, KC8VWM, KA0HCP and 1 other person like this.
  4. AB3TQ

    AB3TQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    Not a BaoFeng fan, so is it OK if I disagree? Or is that a facetious statement? It often isn't easy to tell.
  5. K9STH

    K9STH Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page


    I definitely agree that no one should ever deliberately put themselves in situations that might result in having to do something like using modified, non-certificated, equipment to contact public safety officials.

    In addition, just what type of emergency would even, legally, justify such use is pretty narrowly defined. For example, someone with a bloody nose or even a broken arm resulting from an automobile accident does NOT meet the criteria whereas someone seriously injured and trapped in a wrecked vehicle probably would meet the criteria. Someone speeding, in an automobile, would not meet the criteria but a drunk driver, driving on the wrong side of a freeway, would probably meet the criteria.

    The real defining of the situation is that no other form of communications can be available and that includes "CB" radio, commercial two-way radio, satellite radio, etc., and not just land-line or cellular telephone.


    Especially with volunteer fire departments (and in the State of Texas well over 80% of the fire departments are volunteer), where personal equipment is involved, individuals are often looking for inexpensive items that can perform satisfactorily and Baofeng, certificated, radios do fit the bill. Such radios allow the individual short range communications and, if something does happen to the radio, the individual is not "out" a lot of money.

    In the not so distant past, there were a couple of brands of certificated handheld units that were in the under $200 price range. They barely met the technical requirements of 47 CFR Part 90 and the construction was no where near the quality of the Motorola HT-200 and HT-220 equipment. But, they also cost like 25% of what the Motorola equipment cost. In the early 1980s, I sold a number of those brands of radios to volunteer firemen and to a couple of small security operations since those persons just could not afford better equipment but definitely needed such equipment.

    When Force, which eventually was bought out by Uniden, which was a "spin off" from Motorola, came out with quality portable units that were a bit more expensive, but were still reasonably priced, I stopped selling the "low end" units. For those individual volunteer firemen who could not afford to immediately pay full price, I was able to make arrangements for a "time pay" plan, at reasonable interest rates, so that the individual could immediately obtain the equipment.

    The performance of the Baofeng units is light years better than the certificated "low end" units, they are much better "built", considerably smaller, and run more power. As such, for those radio systems that still use "normal", non trunking, etc., systems, they are a viable alternative to the much higher priced equipment.

    Everything aside, as more, and more, public safety, etc., radio systems go to trunking and / or become digital, modified amateur radio equipment will be unable to access those systems and it will not matter if there are modified equipment around. That is, the radio will not be able to communicate with the public safety agencies.

    Glen, K9STH
    KB0MNM likes this.
  6. WG7X

    WG7X Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes! This is spot on.

    The weak excuse of "I have an XYZ condition" will not fly with any other federal or state agency. Folks that believe that they can transmit on any frequency they desire, under the "emergency" clause of the regulations are in for a rude awakening...
    WQ4G and WD9EWK like this.
  7. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    The regulation allowing you to TX on a frequency you're not normally permitted - "immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available." - is not there for you to PLAN on. If your plan for getting help is to transmit on a USFS frequency, you might have outdated info, the wrong PL, out of range for that particular machine, or NOBODY LISTENING. This is a bad plan.

    If there is no cell service, then bring a sat phone. Or use your ham radio to keep in touch with someone (on a repeater, for example) who knows where you are, what your condition is, and what you need in an emergency, and let them get you the help you need. Travel with others, don't go alone. There are lots of ways you can mitigate this kind of risk, and utilizing ham radio for communication where cell service is unavailable can be part of that plan. Trying to communicate directly the USFS IS NOT a realistic or reliable plan.
    K1BQY, WQ4G, K3XR and 4 others like this.
  8. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    You should get a First Alert.
    ND6M likes this.
  9. ND6M

    ND6M Ham Member QRZ Page

    EXACTLY, I know a person that tried to use the Part 97 regs when he transmitted on the San Diego County Sheriffs repeater,............... The FCC couldn't have cared less, however, ............................the Sheriff hauled him into the John Duffy hotel (county jail) . He was prosecuted and convicted in court.
  10. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is one of those rules that's kind of "dated" and existed from the pre-cell phone explosion days. However, a typical working example scenario for which this rule is applied is when a cop pulls over a bad guy on the side of a dark road, the officer gets shot and is left laying on the side of the road.

    A passing motorist who is a ham stops and he/she either gets on the police officers radio, or uses his ham radio equipment on police frequencies to summons for help. The rule was written during a time when it wasn't particularly unusual or unreasonable to assume there are no telephones available anywhere in the situation described above. However, in this example scenario, the rule is describing how it's far better if you call for help using the police officers radio instead of your own ham radio equipment. So by all means go ahead and use the police officers radio equipment to call for help instead of using your own ham radio equipment because, "it's the normal communication system that is available." So no, your ham radio equipment is not the normal means of communication in this situation.

    Also what many hams "think" this rule means, is most likely incorrect 99% of the time. Notice how the rule is NOT describing or is even applicable to an "emergency." The word "emergency" is specifically excluded and doesn't exist in the rule for a reason. This is because the rule applies to a level of priority that's much higher and greater than just any type of emergency. Basically, someone needs to be bleeding profusely or even dying in front you at the time. So merely reporting the scene of a car accident you should encounter on the side of the road using police channels on your ham radio equipment is probably going to result in prosecution.

    So using your ham radio on public service frequencies to report "perceived emergencies" isn't going to meet the required rule criteria to situations you might encounter 99.5% of the time. The likelihood and odds of having BOTH the accepted criteria exactly as described in the rule, AND having no other means of normal communications available in 2018 is so remote, it's like winning the lottery.

    Even if you "feel" you are doing the right thing, be fully prepared that you're likely going to be prosecuted anyways. Make sure you're willing to fully accept that fact when making that all important critical life saving call.

    In the end, it will be up to the court to decide your case. Keep in mind ham radio equipment is a means of available communication, so there's a catch 22 situation. For example, you're going to have a tough time explaining how this rule protects you from prosecution when you had ham radio communication equipment available at your disposal to communicate with. The fact you called for help on police channels instead of using ham radio frequencies is not necessarily a sound argument that's going to pass the litmus test for using this rule as a defense in the black and white world of the legal system. You will have the burden of describing and convincing the judge how no repeaters were available ("normal communication systems") to communicate with from your location, at that point in time. If your argument is unsuccessful the prosecution may result in criminal charges and the FCC will proceed to revoke your license.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2018
    KG5RZ likes this.

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