The Role Of Amateur Radio in Providing Emergency
THE ROLE OF AMATEUR RADIO IN PROVIDING EMERGENCY ELECTRONIC
COMMUNICATION FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Russell C. Coile, K6FVH
Published in Disaster Prevention and Management: An International
Journal, Volume 6 Number 3 pages 178-185, 1997, ISSN 0965-3562
MCB University Press 60/62 Toller Lane, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England
In the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) provides support to State and local governments in fulfi lment of their
responsibilities for preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation of disasters.
One method FEMA has used to support State and local emergency communication
functions was to sign and implement a Memorandum of Understanding with
the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) for amateur radio operators to provide
electronic communications for State and local governments in disasters.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has licensed more
than 600,000 amateur radio operators in the United States. The national
organization of amateur radio operators called the American Radio Relay
League (ARRL) was formed in 1914. More than 80,000 of these amateurs
have registered their availability for emergency communications in disasters
in the ARRL's Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES).
Amateur radio operators have been providing communications in
natural disasters such as fl oods, hurricanes and earthquakes since 1913.
Since amateur radio operation in the United States was prohibited during
the years of both World Wars I and II, FEMA has sponsored a new branch of
the amateur service called Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES).
RACES operators are authorized to operate if the President invokes his War
Emergency Powers while all other amateur operation would be silenced.
Some amateur radio operators in the United States communicate by sending
Morse code signals, others prefer to use microphones. Some use computer-to-
computer communications, while still others set up amateur television stations