Saturday, January 2, 2010

Is amateur ARES / emcomm ‘a waste’?

This is a quick cheesy remake of a speech I have at a local club meeting. I didn't expect so many other bloggers to pick up on it.

Emergency communications has been part of ham radio from it’s inception. Yet we need separate entities (ARES/RACES) to help promote it? Why not separate entities to help advance this hobby?

“Do we need to keep maintaining an inefficient, overly-political, antiquated, bureaucratic emcomm-specific radio organization? No. Amateur radio operators have always been willing to help in times of true emergency, and that won’t change if ARRL didn’t have its grubby little hands all over it. ARES-type emcomm as we know it could use some restructuring and attitude changes. When all else truly does fail, agencies will still want us, whether we’re trained in ICS or not, and whether we’re ARES or not.” --- Kevin K0KDS

What you're seeing in an influx of people who have no interest in technology or experimenting.

CB is back. Remember the 1970s?

We have a generation of "communicators", people who pick up a cell phone or microphone and want to communicate (talk).

The underlying technology is of no interest to this generation.

Citing the need to grow the hobby, the entry criteria have been overly simplified. We now give a ham license in every Happy Meal sold.

The end result is the need for ARRL to create reason for people to become hams, Public Service.

Ham radio is nothing like it used to be, and will never again be a platform for experimenting and technology seekers. ---- [Callsign removed by request]

In the January 2010 issue of QST on page 9 the “It seems to Us” editorial by K1ZZ is about just this same theme.

It’s titled “Not an Emergency Radio Service?” And references a FCC Public Notice DA 09-2259 that states “While the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communications service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications, is one of the underlying principles of the amateur service, the amateur service is not an emergency radio service [emphasis added].”

Here are some other peoples blogs on my video:

Just to clarify, I'm not totally against it. Just recently locally I've noticed a huge emphasis on it. In my opinion there are other ares that we should be placing a much greater emphasis on. In other words, if you enjoy dedicating yourself the the drills and so forth, fine... just try not to take it to seriously.

From what I have seen the real thing never compares to a drill. Fortunately in the area I live in the last real emergency was the Weyauwega train wreck of 1996.

While lots of local hams responded, what stands out the most is that we were not wanted by the local emergency coordinators and other officials.

So building a good relationship with these guys can't hurt. It's even better when it helps you obtain access to tower sites. But please let it stop there.

In all the house bills that recognize Amateur Radio for emergency communications it is noted that we do this "as service to the public at no cost to taxpayers."

Yet I read about FEMA grants and other federal and state taxpayer assisted money being awarded and spent on various amateur radio installations.

This is the kiss of death in my opinion. And I obviously do not condone this.

I entered the hobby at a time when it was still ahead of consumer technology.  This is what brought me to the hobby.  I am not sure if I were to first learn about ham radio today, if I would be interested.

When I first entered the hobby, I participated more in the public service aspects.  It made sense to me.  I now view the commercial and consumer infrastructure as stable, and therefore have curtailed those activities a bit.  Perhaps on the other side of the coin, when I entered the hobby my technical abilities were less developed.  Either way, I generally view time spent in the hobby these days most productive when it is focused in the learning/technical and personal betterment arenas as opposed to the public service aspects.

Perhaps this is because I am adopting the old fear that if ham radio continues to loose status as a technical activity, we might also lose the privilege of operating on the public airwaves.  Logically the public service arena appears self sufficient now, unless some sort of major catastrophe occurs.  While on the other hand, the technical arena could use all the focus it can get to help foster new exciting ideas and developments in turn helping the hobbies growth and continued acknowledgement as a contributor to the technical art.


Anonymous said...

The Ham Cops are coming or a chance to collect another arm band for your ECOM jacket.

Amateur radio club forming in Ellis County


A new amateur radio club has been established in Ellis County, and hobbyists are hoping to lend law enforcement a helping hand.

The Ellis County Ham Operators Club was formed at the group's initial meeting Jan. 21. The operators hope to team up with the sheriff's office and emergency management to help with stormspotting and other events, said Tim Batt, a Victoria resident who is serving as the club's chairperson.

"It's more or less getting more eyes out in more places," Batt said.

The group will meet the first Thursday of every month in the Ellis County Law Enforcement Center, located in the basement of the courthouse.

Their second meeting is at 7 p.m. today, and all are welcome to attend, Batt said.

While 17 people attended the initial meeting, there are 73 licensed amateur radio operators in Hays, with three in Victoria and nine in Ellis, he said. It's hoped that more of these individuals will become members.

Anyone who is interested in amateur radio is welcome to attend and can then begin the process of becoming licensed. It's hoped the Ellis County chapter will be affiliated with the American Radio Relay League, Batt said.

Hays was home to a previous amateur radio club, which officially disbanded about three years ago, partly due to relocation of antenna towers, said Dennis Ernst, a member of both groups.

Ernst said having an active club will be a benefit to law enforcement officials and the county overall.

"In case of emergencies, or even in severe weather ... having the county crew, the sheriff and police officers keep an eye on the weather is one thing," he said. "But extra hands or extra people out in the field are always welcome, and often necessary."

The group will focus on three main goals: education, stormspotting and emergency communications. By helping with stormspotting, it's hoped the ham radio operators will improve communications and free up sheriff department deputies to respond to other calls.

"It's a fun hobby, but it also has the very beneficial side to help the citizens of the community that they're in," Ellis County Sheriff Ed Harbin said.

Anonymous said...