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Emergency Communications

Prepare Yourself For Times Of Need

Be Prepared

Even if you don't join WICEN, you may still find yourself in the centre of an emergency. Radio Amateurs are located in all parts of the world and often find themselves at the scene of an emergency. Such was the case in the Asian tsunami where on-the-spot radio amateurs provided critical first line communications for several days until government and emergency communications systems were activated. More likely, by sheer bad luck, you will find yourself at the scene of an accident in a remote area where your cell-phone won't work. Your Amateur radio equipment may be the only form of communication, and your equipment and your radio communications skills could very likely save a life.

The key to providing any effective emergency response is preparedness and it's no use finding that you, or your equipment, are not up to scratch when the time comes. There are some very simple guidelines for ensuring that you, and your equipment, are up to the job.

About You

Keep fit
It's not only going to be good for your health, but emergency situations are both physically and mentally demanding. You will be much better able to deal with the stress of an extended emergency situation if you are physically fit.

Know your equipment
Operating in an emergency requires that you know your communication equipment and its capability to a high level of competency. You must be able to improvise, especially with antennas, and know how to quickly get a signal on-air in less than ideal circumstances.

Know who to contact and what to say
Having the ability to communicate is only part of the solution. You need to keep a list of emergency services contact numbers handy and be able to quickly, accurately and calmly convey the nature of the emergency and the location. This is where formal emergency training such as provided by the WIA is very helpful.

About Your Equipment

Keep it in tip-top condition
Radio equipment which works well in the benign environment of the home is often inadequate in emergencies. The annoying intermittent microphone cable (fixed with a wiggle) and the intermittent display (fixed with a well aimed smack on the side of the rig) become show stoppers. Fix them now before you have to rely on them. Your mobile station may need to operate in a hostile environment, so pay particular attention to the serviceability of your vehicle, its battery and its charging system, the radio equipment, the condition of the antennas, and all associated cables and connections.

Have an emergency antenna and ATU handy
Antennas get broken or blown down by strong winds. Keep an emergency long wire antenna handy that can be thrown over a tree, or a spare vertical whip antenna that can be quickly connected. Keep a manual ATU at hand so any random length antenna can be quickly tuned.

Have an emergency power source
Keep fully charged batteries with sufficient capacity for at least 24 hours operation. Alternatively keep a portable generator or use the 12V power from a vehicle. Keep fuel for at least 24 hours charging.

Emergency lighting
Keep gaslights or other lights handy to provide at least 12 hours emergency lighting.

Food, water and personal items
Keep emergency food, water, medicines, clothing and toiletries.


Page Last Updated: Monday 14 December 2009 at 20:50 hours