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This page begins by outlining resources for all emergency/disaster response volunteers, then continues by discussing additional training and resources specific to volunteer Amateur Radio operators. It also lists additional resources for volunteer Personal Radio Services operators.
Anyone who expects to serve as a responding volunteer in an emergency or disaster situation in the United States should obtain at least some training that covers the Incident Command System (ICS) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS), of which the ICS is a key feature. This training is offered on line at no cost in the Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Management Institute's Independent Study Program (FEMA EMI ISP). Successful completion of each course results in a personalized certificate from FEMA. Most of the government and other public agencies and volunteer organizations active in disasters (VOADs) under whose supervision a volunteer might serve either require proof of such training or will soon require it.
As an Amateur Radio operator who wants to serve in time of disaster, you have several challenges to overcome, but there are many resources available to you to help you overcome the challenges. The challenges include gaining and maintaining:
Some radio operators are under the impression that the federal regulations that govern Amateur Radio are suspended during emergencies or disasters. You may hear them say something like "In an emergency, anything goes." This is not true. In emergency and disaster situations, certain provisions of the regulations go into effect, and certain prohibitions are suspended, but the remaining provisions remain fully in effect. We Amateur Radio operators should, in fact, expect and prepare to govern ourselves with the utmost discipline, compliance, and courtesy during emergencies and disasters in order to achieve our mission of serving the public at those times.
For most Amateur Radio operators, conveniently-located actual disasters utilizing Amateur Radio's services are rare, so skills must be gained and maintained in other ways. Activities that will help you meet these challenges include:
The Personal Radio Services of the Federal Communications Commission include the Family Radio Service (FRS), the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), the Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS), and the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). Transceivers using these services can be useful in emergency and disaster response situations. They may especially useful for very short range communications, such as within and among urban and suburban neighborhoods during CERT operations. Unlicensed FRS, MURS, and CB operators and licensed GMRS operators are encouraged to make use of the training resources designed for Amateur Radio operators. Here are some additional resources: