Op-Ed: The Relevance of Amateur Radio

Introduction: most American hams have no role to play in the rescue and recovery efforts underway in Puerto Rico.  We can only watch and pray.  We can also absorb the lessons presented us, in real time, and prepare against the inevitable Black Swan events.

Originally published in QNI Newsletter, October 2017

For a couple of decades now, many have been forecasting the demise of Amateur
Radio emergency communications programs. “We’re no longer needed,” was the
typical cry. “We have cell phones and wireless internet everywhere.”

The wake-up call has been heard! Three significant hurricanes in a matter of weeks,
all of which have once again proven that Amateur Radio remains a relevant and
much needed emergency communications resource.

Of particular interest was the importance of not just traffic networks, but the
demand for health and welfare traffic services, both of which were heretofore
repeatedly dismissed as irrelevant by the so-called “leadership” of ham radio.
Let this situation serve as a reminder that ham radio in general, and our national
messaging layer provided by Radio Relay International remain timely and relevant.
Volunteers are needed to staff our daily communications circuits and to provide the
needed infrastructure to support our Digital Traffic Network.

We need active CW, voice and digital operators to ensure we are
genuinely prepared the next time “the big one” hits.

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