In Times Of Need
In times of natural disasters, radio amateurs throughout the world provide support communications, and sometimes the only communications immediately after a disaster. When cyclone Tracey hit Darwin in 1974 the only communication out of the area initially was by a radio amateur who hooked his transceiver up to a car battery, and let the world know that Darwin needed help. Also in Australia, emergency communications have been provided after numerous bush fires including Black Friday 1939, and Ash Wednesday 1983, the Newcastle Earthquake in 1989, Floods in Queensland and similar emergencies across Australia.
Often after a disaster normal telephone systems are damaged or jammed as anxious relatives try and call an area. The radio systems of emergency services are also extremely busy, and additional or supplementary communication can be readily provided by radio amateurs using their own equipment, and skills. The role of amateur radio in supplying communications in times of emergency is being increasingly recognised in the disaster plans at national State and district levels. The WIA has recently established a national scheme to bring together a wide range of amateur activity and capability in support of emergency preparedness.. The WIA has created the WIA National Network of Emergency Communications (WIANNEC) as an umbrella for existing .amateur radio emergency services, such as WICEN (Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network) which operates at regional and State levels, and for developing national and international capabilities required in response to the growing awareness of the need for well trained and capable emergency preparedness in Australia and our region. Today the need is for a coherent approach to emergency preparedness and the role of the WIA is to bring together the very many capable elements of the amateurs radio service so they are ready to serve the community when required.
The bases of emergency preparedness are capability and training and the WIA is preparing programs to ensure that both capability and training are available where and when required by the Australian community.
Amateur operators with WICEN for instance regularly engage in training exercises, and provide communication for public events such as car rallies, the great Victorian Bike Ride, the Red Cross Murray River and Hawkesbury River Canoe Marathons and similar activities around all Australian regions.