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Ham Radio and Emergency Communications

If you are an amateur radio operator, you are aware of the emergency communications aspect of the hobby. Amateur radio serves critical communication functions during widespread emergencies; the 1999 Oklahoma City tornado, 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are just three examples of when ham radio operators stepped in to assist with their skills and radio equipment.

In fact, you might have entered the hobby with emergency communications in mind. If so, you probably have a grab bag with the appropriate gear ready to go in case disaster strikes in your community. But what constitutes appropriate gear? One or more ham radio transceivers, antennas, batteries, and a list of emergency ham radio frequencies used in your area - preferably already programmed into your radio(s). Is this sufficient? Are you ready to help public service officials with communication needs during and after an emergency? How do you know what challenges they are facing before you report to the command post?

The logical answer is that unless you have a radio scanner tuned to public service frequencies in the wake of an emergency, you're missing out on an important aspect of the overall response to the emergency. By using a scanner as an emergency unfolds, you get a much better sense of the big picture - for example, specific areas affected by the disaster - something that will help you as you get your assignment and begin focusing on the communications tasks at hand. In many cases, when you hear information about an unfolding emergency on amateur airwaves, it comes from someone who is monitoring public service frequencies.

Even more, monitoring public service frequencies on a regular basis helps you learn how emergency communications are handled in your community. Monitoring can also give you advanced warning if disaster strikes in your area so you have more time to respond if your services are needed.

National Radio Data's database of public service frequencies is comprehensive - we have frequencies for every public service entity the FCC has granted frequency use to. These frequencies are easy to find, thanks to simple search features that quickly drill down to the information you need. And our frequency database is updated frequently so you can find the latest information available for the public service entities in your area.

Technician-class operators are authorized to use all amateur frequencies above 50MHz.

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