Emergency Preparedness Starts With YOU!

Amateur radio has provided radio communications for many different emergencies over the years. But it takes more than just an amateur license to be useful and effective in an emergency.

The fist step is being prepared. In an emergency, family comes first, so if you prepared your home and family in advance, you will be available to help others immediately. Emergency preparedness starts with you. Create a home emergency plan and review it regularly with your family. Include supplies for 3 days and plan alternate locations where family can go, as well as a common contact location where family can leave a message.

Once your family is secure you are ready to go. But go where? If you have not participated in emergency preparedness planning and training, you probably don't know who to contact, what frequencies to use, who is in charge or where to go at various sites. Simply "popping" into the middle of an emergency can cause more grief for an already overworked team. Many Amateur groups in North America will no longer accept amateurs who are not trained in Emergency Communications. For example, many amateurs who volunteered for 911 in New York, were told to go back home because they lacked secure identification and had no training.

So what if you want to help, but have no training and don't own more than a portable radio. Is there any point in volunteering? Everyone has to start somewhere, so an interested person with an amateur radio license is a great place to start. In Ottawa, EMRG has meetings, training sessions and exercises to help amateurs learn and practice emergency communications. As for equipment, most locations require more than one person, so the other person probably has enough, or someone will lend you some. EMRG has been building up a stock of radios, power supplies and antennas, for use in locations where people don't have the required equipment. There are also locations which have a permanent radio installed, so only the radio operator is required.

The next step is up to you. If you believe in Amateur radio as a valuable emergency communications resource, then you need to get involved, so you can be an effective asset in an emergency. It takes more than a group of people with radios to be effective in an emergency, it takes an organized team!

For more information about EMRG, check out the web site www.emrg.ca, or contact Peter Gamble the EMRG Team Leader, ve3bqp@rac.ca .