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HAM Emergency Communications Plan

Updated: Jun 15, 2020


The NATIONAL EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION PLAN Network's primary objective is to aid and support Committees of Safety (COS) and the militia. Secondary objective is to enable communications between various Committees of Safety and Correspondence and the People in general.

Everyone should have at least a hand held HAM Radio.

This document is a strategy to accomplish this support based on four primary goals:

1) The People be able to communicate locally during an emergency with a device that can operate independently from any current internet, cell phone, broadcast media, newspapers etc.

A small inexpensive two way radio (transceiver) operating in the Very High Frequency (VHF/2 meter) and/or Ultra High Frequency (UHF/70 cm) band, such as the BaoFeng BF-F8HP, will be required. People need to acquire these radios NOW!

2) There are currently about three quarter million HAMs in the US. Utilizing the knowledge, experience and networking of these HAMs to quickly create/utilize networks across these amateur bands.

3)  For the People to study HAM radio regulations and protocols, and take the HAM radio license exams.

4)  Getting in contact with HAMs that are already working in the High Frequency (HF 6 to 160 Meter) bands that can provide nationwide communication coverage. We will need this in emergency situations.

The remainder of this document is an elaboration on each of these goals.

1)  People need to purchase a small hand held VHF/UHF transceiver, such as the BaoFeng BF-F8HP NOW! It is far better to have a transceiver and not need it than need a transceiver and not have it! [CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE] No license is required to transmit on the MURS channels, but you can only transmit at a 2 watt power limit when using them. It should be noted that a person may listen to any HAM channel, VHF, UHF or HF with a receiver or transceiver, but you are not allowed to transmit unless you have a HAM license. Therefore, you can get information without a license, but you cannot send it to others.

There is a cheaper BaoFeng transceiver also available that transmits at a lower maximum power of 5 watts, but unless your assets are totally limited, it is recommended that you buy the higher powered radio as it will operate at longer ranges.

Without proper equipment, all COSs and other groups will be reduced to communicating by telephone land line systems, cell phone systems, the internet, written, or face-to-face communications in an emergency. This could severely limit communications. Telephone and internet systems may or may not be available. If both are unavailable in a particular emergency, communities could be cut off from one another. The cell phone network, although based on higher radio frequencies, suffers from limited range and a reliance on the same telephone and/or internet, plus they can be controlled by the powers that be.

Written communications will always be available, but delivery could become difficult or impossible.  Face-to-Face communications are ideal, but could be impractical depending again on the distances involved and the nature of the emergency at hand.

Ham Radio overcomes many of the limitations of the other modes of communication. It can reach across distance, it is based on auditory communications like face-to-face, and it can be used to transmit written communications, providing both the sender and the receiver have the proper equipment.  The first and most important piece of equipment required is a small hand held VHF/UHF transceiver, such as the BaoFeng BF-F8HP that enables communications.

If hundreds of people in a locality have radios, even if one person cannot use them, they can at least listen, and possibly provide a replacement to others who can use them.  Proper hardware is essential to enable people to communicate. A HAM operator will be needed in each county.  Person to person communications is possible with these transceivers in a locality by fanning out from the person who has a message. Messages will be sent on a schedule starting in the evening and continuing every 3 hours thru the night.

In order to be insured of keeping in contact in an emergency, it is imperative that you have a VHF/UHF transceiver and a HAM license or live close to someone who does.

If an extended time emergency is experienced, which could result in loss of repeaters, or there is no continuous VHF or UHF coverage in your area, or it becomes necessary to have one or more central points to transmit information from, then High Frequency (HF) Radio communications will be necessary. This will result in a totally different HAM setup, i.e. transceiver, antenna, HAM license etc. for transmitting from these central points and an HF receiver for those people listening in these affected areas.

Another possibility which was popular 30 to 40 years ago that is still in use today by the trucking industry is the use of Citizens Band radios. These are 40 channel radios that operate at about 27 MHz and a useful communication range of 1 to 5 miles. No license is required to use CB radios.

2)  We need to utilize the knowledge, experience and networking of HAMs to quickly create/utilize networks across these two amateur bands.   

Knowledge in how the hardware works is essential for efficient communications.  Learning the physics of how a radio works is not essential for use of the hardware, but does play a big role in how well communications are accomplished.  The physics are complex and take some time to learn.

A vast, nationwide, expanse of knowledgeable people already exists.  These are the licensed HAM radio operators.  They exist in every community.  Every COS should tap into this nationwide resource.

HAM radio operators have already taken the time to learn how best to communicate with the available hardware and environment.  COS members should reach out to their local HAM communities for guidance on how to effectively use the hardware they have.  A little guidance from a knowledgeable person can go a long way to ensure communications are successful in a wide range of emergency situations.

3)  We need to encourage people to learn all they can about HAM radio so they can be better communicators.

Using the radio after acquiring some proper guidance is necessary, but even better is to acquire the knowledge oneself. Not everyone needs to be a communication expert, but the more one knows, the better the chance their communications will be successful.

HAMs can not only provide guidance, but most can teach others the necessary knowledge if they are willing to learn.  Some people will want to learn a little more about the physics.  Others will dive in to learn everything they can to aid communications.  Both are needed and so every person should be encouraged to learn as much as they can.

Every person is encouraged to study for and get their HAM license, as everyone who gets their HAM license is indeed an asset to the local community.  HAMs maintain clubs and sometimes offer full classes to help people new to HAM radio to get the basics and more.  Clubs already exist and we should use them to help us learn more about what we need and do for communications.

4)  We need to involve people that are already using HF communications (Not all HAMs are equipped for HF communication!)

Using HF bands for communications is somewhat unique as the mode of propagation is different, e.g. the Radio Frequency (RF) wave propagation is line of sight for VHF and UHF frequencies, but for HF RF propagation, the energy can be channeled around the earth and is not limited to line of site distances.  

Not all HAMs are allowed to use all HF bands.  The Amateur Radio Service has different classes of licenses. Currently there are three, Technician, General, and Extra. Only the General and Extra license classes are authorized to use the lower HF bands. Technicians can use only the 10 meter HF band. The Extra class license allows the use of ALL bands allocated to the Amateur Radio Service.

HAMs who have the General and Extra class licenses should be considered valuable resources for communicating over HF frequencies.  Out of those two classes, only a few actually transmit on HF frequencies.  Finding those HAMs who are familiar with HF and can help the communications between the general populace and the Committees of Safety.

The strategy to use HAM radio in this fashion should be worked out by those most knowledgeable in HF communications, the General and Extra class HAM radio operators.

HF communications go all over the world.

Using these bands to limit our communications to just America is impossible. Because of this fact, choosing the frequencies to be used depends on time of day, antennas, power and the abilities of the HF communicators we find. We should choose wisely.

This communications plan lacks particulars about frequencies, times, and equipment. As the COS grows in knowledge and use of Amateur radio, those details will be settled. The theory of what “should” work and the knowledge and physics of what actually will work in every situation are two totally separate things. COS would like to leverage the widespread knowledge that already exists and form it into a more particular plan of action that will ensure routine communications. The COS’s use of these routine communications will prepare and enable emergency communications and adjust the plan. We will then post the latest updated plan below and e-mail plan updates to all partisipants in our coalition in an effort to get this vital information to the populas.

Protecting your Radio Gear and electronic equipment

Recently, attention has shifted from communication problems to other aspects of our potential communication problems. That is, the potential impact on electrical equipment such as radios, computers, TV, cell phones automobile electronics, electric motors and generators, home appliances such as washers, dryers, small appliances, automobile electronics etc. of an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) that can come from solar storms from the sun or a nuclear explosion which has a larger fast E1 component. A large solar storm would tend to take out our electrical generating potential and grid. The potential damage in this case is extreme and very difficult to correct. It could take years. This would result in a lack of fuel for heating, autos, trucks and other vehicles as there would be no AC power to power electrical fuel pumps.

A deliberate nuclear detonation would damage items that have shorter lines/wires, transformers etc. and would possibly be more than ten times more intense than a solar storm over say a million square mile area. The effects of these EMPs is difficult to predict as the results depend on the location, orientation, shielding, and built in electric circuit protection of the device. Devices that are turned on or running at the time the EMP hits will be more severely damaged than those that are not.

Some simple precautions you might take to prevent or minimize damage are to store susceptible devices, if possible, in a shielded enclosure or Faraday cage i.e. an automobile in a metal building. If available, aluminum is about 4 times better than steel. You can place your electronic devices in a metal enclosure, either something premade like a microwave or metal garbage can or wrapping it in a conductive coating like aluminum foil. The better the conductor, the better the barrier, e.g. silver and copper are great, aluminum is 60% as effective and steel is 14% as effective as copper. If you use a microwave as your Faraday cage, you might want to cover the microwave door with a conductor as it is only an effective shield near the magnetron operating frequency due to the transparent grid on the door.

The following video will instruct People in how to program their radio or when ordering your radio's from NLA you can check the box and for a fee we will program your Radio to your local (county) emergency frequency and the five channels we will share nationally and can transmit and receive as you travel locally and from county to county.

You can download a free copy of Chirp software here

Information on Faraday Cages

Download PDF • 46KB

Amateur Radio Repeaters by State, County or Zip Code

Amateur Radio Ham Radio Repeaters by State, Location and Distance for All Frequency Bands

Look up Peoples Information by Call Sign and much more

AmRRON - Introduction to the CH3 Project

20m AmRRON Nets - An Introduction

The Beginner's Handbook of Amateur Radio 4th Ed.'s%20Handbook%20of%20Amateur%20Radio.pdf

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