*Emergency Radio Operation for Non-HAMs*
This is in regard to 2 Meter Short-Range Operations incorporating a repeater which is the most reliable form of short-range comms in my AO. The 70cm band is popular in other parts of the country such as the North East portion of the United States but not real popular in my AO.
The FCC states (basically) that anyone can transmit on any HAM Frequency and at any time if there is an emergency and for emergency purposes. My personal definition of an "Emergency" ranges from your teenage daughter getting a flat tire on the bad side of town at night to an injury auto accident. All areas in the U.S.A. are different so I am speaking from the perspective of my area, the area I am most familiar with.
Here is some basic tips that may help and it is far better to go through the operations portion of the learning curve at your own convenience than try to do it in an emergency situation. I have been involved with a "bad" attempt from a Non-HAM Operator who was clueless on simple 2 meter duplex (Repeater) operations. The poor young lady was panicked and could not give enough helpful and exact information to help us help her quickly. Her husbands' (A licensed Technician) radio was not set for the Repeaters' PL tone, she could copy us but her transmission was weak and not very audible We had to try to work long range higher power Simplex Operations and it was difficult to say the least. It took hours to find her and her husband who had fractured his collar bone. He did not have the foresight to show her how the radio worked or to have the proper settings for long range Repeater operations. the story had a happy ending but it could have resulted in a much worse situation.
So, this is what *I* do if I am out with someone who is not familiar with the gear..
In our study guides for the HAM tests there are some basic guidelines on just HOW to properly install and wire your Mobile 2 Meter Radio. It states to wire the radio directly to the vehicles' battery, mostly to avoid all the electronic noise in most auto electric systems. The reason I mention this is you do not need to have the cars' ignition on as the properly installed radio by-passes all switches, just turn the radio on and it is good to go. When out in the field I will hide a door key outside ON the vehicle then hide the ignition key inside the vehicle. I always lock up when leaving a vehicle in the bush. With the radio directly wired to the battery my partner can just open the door and turn on the radio without fumbling with the ignition, a little detail that could prove painfully tedious in a crises.
I always take a moment to show how this radio works, it seems they are all a little different so I will have to be a little vague and generic on the exact description. I start out simply by stating "Turn the radio on here, I have the frequency, tone and setback already set on the repeater and I keep the Frequency written on a piece of card stock that is taped just above the radio on the dashboard". If for some reason the Frequency "jumps" (Mr. Murphy is very active in the Radio World!) out of its' setting it is written down so all a non-operator has to do is turn the dial and be back on the Repeater. This is very important! If you do not have the radio on a repeater that is being monitored by a Team (SATERN/ARES in my case) your radio will be next to worthless. You have to comm with the right people and people who are there.
Okay...Lets walk through it. Turn on radio, check the Frequency, depress the PTT switch (Press-to-Talk) on the mic and talk as if you are on the telephone. Remember to keep the PTT switch depressed until you are finished talking.
Now, what do you say?
Again, simply talk into the Mic as if you were on a telephone. Try to be as clear and exact in terms as you can and be prepared to repeat the same statement(s) several times. Generally you will be way out in the bush and they will not receive you as well as a City call. I would say "Break Repeater 89. (146.890 Mhz, we say .89 as it is economical and precise) I have an emergency, my friend gm3 has a broken ankle near the XXXXXX river, I had to leave him and come to use his radio. I need help moving him and getting him to a hospital. We are at GPS coordinates XXXXXXX and XXXXXXX." Another reason GPS is so important!
Try to give the most clear and accurate description of your situation that you can. I have heard scared folks say there were scared and that is fine, in fact I appreciate it as it helps even more in telling me your EXACT situation and how best can I assist. A scared person needs counseled and reassured the situation is now under control and we are on our way and please stay on the Repeater.
I have heard transmissions like this and there is a huge effort to jump in and help. You may get double transmissions so be ready for that also. Make sure you receive then wait about 5 seconds before transmitting again. Someone else my offer something like "I am just 5 miles away, are you near the gun-range?"
You can get some good practice before hand. We have a custom/method when we are on the radio "Please Standby for Third Party Traffic" which in English means someone without a license is getting ready to talk on my legal station that I am controlling.
RadioRay has talked to my 8 year old son on 20m at a distance of 1005 miles! Reddogs' son and my son comm'ed recently together on 2m via a Repeater. I won't mention how proud the Daddies' were!
Like everything else in our craft, it is complicated only if you make it so. So practice now while you can, ask that HAM you know to help you on OJT radio experience. A good Operator will take the time to show a Non-Operator how to make an emergency call on his/her radio. It is peace of mind and just one more layer of protection. A good Operator will always remember to preset his/her radio and insure that it will be hard to knock it off frequency, key locks are great for this.
Again, do not be intimidated by how many knobs or switches are on the radio, you have it on and you have it working. If you can it will help to practice an emergency call and make non-transmitting practice runs. We are making our practice calls with our new Team Members and moving ahead with earning Tickets.
And above all, please remember, if ol' gm3 can do it, you can to!
73 and Semper Paratus
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