Ham Radio: Critical Component of Utility Emergency Plans

ham radio

Ham radio operators are critical when it comes to emergency or outage restoration, because they can be online even when every other communication channel is compromised.  For this reason, many ham or amateur radio operators get into the field specifically to help out during crisis situations.  According to Mike Corey, emergency preparedness manager for the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), “emergency communications is a gateway into amateur radio.”

Why HAM Radio Should be Part of Your Company’s Emergency Plan

Amateur radio played a huge role in helping to restore order in the wake of 9/11, Superstorm Sandy, and other major catastrophes.  Why?  Because ham radio is like a safety net when the ‘you know what’ hits the fan!

Due to the interdependence of utility systems and wireless communications networks, a wireless outage can bring things crashing to a halt.  When the network goes down, it can render all internal systems and communication channels useless, hindering critical communications with police, fire, and other emergency personnel.  In a situation like this, the only communication option is often amateur radio.

For these reasons, ham radio must be incorporated into every utility’s’ emergency plan, covering things such as activation criteria and the definition of specific ham radio roles, assignments, processes and protocols.  Amateur radio operators are a fantastic resource, ready, willing, and able to help restore order when called upon, and as such it would be foolish to omit this valuable resource from the plan.

The good news is that there is an entire subculture of people who are ham radio enthusiasts, a movement that was jumpstarted by 9/11.  In fact, the total number of FCC-issued amateur radio licenses should eclipse 800,000 by 2018.  So now would be a great time to develop an outreach campaign to communicate with, recruit, and even train as many ham radio operators as you see fit.

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