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Amateur Radio has a long and honored tradition of providing communications during special events and in times of emergency. This is in keeping with the first of the stated purposes of the Amateur Radio Service found in the FCC rules:
§97.1(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communications service, particularly with respect to providing emergency service.
The Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service exists to provide emergency communications via Amateur Radio, when regular communication systems are overloaded or fail.
Our primary mission is to link our Served Agencies to the Washoe County Regional Emergency Operations Center, and to provide links between other critical facilities, including hospitals, other emergency management and support agencies, and various field locations. Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service also provides communications links out of Washoe County, including links to the Nevada State Emergency Operations Center in Carson City.
In the event of a disaster, Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members perform a number of tasks, including:
Emergency and Supplemental Communications: During emergencies, such as earthquakes or extended power-outages, cellular telephone, Internet and fax systems can fail and and public service radio channels can rapidly become saturated. Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members are capable of providing back-up radio communications, with many additional channels, and using radio, instead of phone lines, to transmit email-like messages and other computer data.
Inter-Agency Communications: Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members can be assigned to "shadow" key agency personnel to provide inter-agency communications when normal channels are not available. Because of the special frequency and power-output privileges Radio Amateurs have, direct links can be established with locations out of range of normal agency radios, such as the State Emergency Operations Center or FEMA in Washington, D.C.
Health and Welfare Information: Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members can collect and transmit Health and Welfare messages to the American Red Cross (ARC) and to out-of-area family members on behalf of emergency workers and people in the community, freeing emergency personnel and disaster workers to concentrate on priority matters.
Simulated Emergency Tests: To maintain operator skill and to develop working relationships with our Served Agencies, Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members participate in various disaster drills, exercises, and other related activities.
Public Service Events: In non-emergencies, Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members provide supplemental communications for various public service events such as parades, marathons, walk-a-thons, and bicycle races.
- Andy Munoz
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