Disaster Emergency Communications

Affiliated Net Index

National Emergency Communications Response Guidelines Effective 1 August 2020

National SOS Radio Network

Neighborhood HamWatch

Community “Prepper” Communications

Citizens Band Emergency Radio Network (CBERN)

An Emergency Communications Mission

The rapid growth of the Internet and commercial wireless services, particularly in North America, has promoted a sense of invulnerability. Both the average citizen as well as many government and relief agencies have developed their response planning around the assumption that the Internet and cellular infrastructure will always be available.

What if?

Commercial telecommunications common carrier infrastructure is extremely dependent upon a complex, distributed infrastructure including both the power grid and the public switched telephone network. This infrastructure remains vulnerable to significant natural or technological disasters, terrorist attacks or similar events.

The Amateur Radio Service

Amateur Radio has been the traditional answer to significant telecommunications disruptions. However, no single organization has effectively articulated a vision for developing a systematic, professional approach capable of supporting basic messaging between widely dispersed disaster operations. Radio Relay International is designed to accomplish this goal. Built on a solid foundation of traditional methods, RRI adds a solid modernization program utilizing robust digital technology and software capable of automatically forwarding message traffic via the survivable High Frequency radio spectrum.

Professional Standards

Radio Relay International supports the development of a base-line of consistent, professional standards. The goal is to create a foundation, which facilitates the exchange of message traffic and information in a systematic, standardized fashion. In keeping with our infrastructure approach, RRI is current revising and developing a wide variety of training material and standards, which will be made available to all Amateur Radio Service volunteers.

Emergency Communications Exercises

RRI personnel participated in the recent “Cascadia Rising” exercise under the auspices of the American Radio Relay League’s National Traffic System ®. With the development of RRI, these personnel will utilize the lessons learned from Cascadia Rising to implement broad-scale improvements to the national messaging layer. RRI plans to conduct periodic disaster communications exercises, which will be conducted both internally and, when practical, with our served agency partners.


Radio Relay International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public service corporation. Participation is open to any licensed radio amateur with an interest in maintaining systematic and professional operating standards. At the local and state level, RRI infrastructure is also open to all local emergency communications organizations affiliated with emergency management or relief organizations.

There is room for a wide variety of operating interests in RRI. Our volunteers utilize a variety of methods to achieve highly reliable connectivity under any circumstances. Modes utilized include:

  • Common denominator CW (radiotelegraph) and voice (radiotelegraph) networks to maximize “last mile” connectivity.
  • VHF and UHF local networks utilizing voice and data methods to maximize interface with local emergency communications operations.
  • Infrastructure operations to convey record message traffic across North America (and to selected overseas locations) using automated high frequency digital networks.
  • Point-to-point circuits using survivable high-speed radiotelegraph circuits to ensure basic connectivity under worst-case conditions.

Continuous Operation

Radio Relay International operates 365 days per year. Our automated Digital Traffic Network (DTN) operates 24-hours per day and is therefore always available to spring into action in the event of a major disaster.

Our “manual mode” Inter-Area Traffic Network operates on a limited, daily schedule during routine periods. However, this cycle of operation can be expanded to 24-hour operation in time of emergency.

The origination of routine “radiogram” type messages of a personal or administrative nature are encouraged during routine periods. These messages load the system and provide the necessary training and testing to ensure operational readiness.

National Response Plan

Radio Relay International has developed “National Emergency Communications Response Guidelines” designed to ensure that our communications assets can quickly and reliably activate in a systematic and efficient manner to support large-scale disasters. This plan minimizes frequency conflicts, eliminates the duplication of resources, and speeds the flow of emergency, priority or welfare precedence message traffic to its designation.

Situational Awareness

Radio Relay International has developed a program for ensuring that situational awareness data can be collected in time of emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks or major infrastructure failures. Our systematic methods ensure that SITREPs, weather data, and other information is collected in a consistent and professional manner.

Join Radio Relay International!

Why not partner with us to ensure your community is genuinely prepared to provide meaningful, professional EMCOMM service. Routine participation in our networks and adherence to the methods and practices promulgated in our professional training programs ensure that one is truly prepared to provide emergency communications services. We are the ideal solution for both individual emergency preparedness. We also offer a ready-made infrastructure and staffing to support local and state EMCOMM programs.

Contact us for more information.

You can read more about RRI, traffic handling and EMCOMM in the QNI Newsletter.