Thoughts About Emergency Communications

(photos of the field radio station at Brocks’ PATCON are posted at end of outline)

1. Communications is a “skills-based” activity

a. Group communications requires tactical and subject-matter experts
b. Plan (agree)

i. What needs to be accomplished
ii. Who is responsible for specific tasks
iii. When the tasks will be accomplished

c. Educate (act)

i. Determine ‘who’ needs to know ‘what’
ii. Establish and deliver the curriculum
iii. Test the knowledge

d. Practice (commit)

i. Use licensed radio services – an existing community
ii. Join local radio clubs – infrastructure, assistance

iii. Build additional facilities
iv. Attend regularly scheduled “nets”
v. Conduct simulated emergency tests

2. Match technology to group objectives (and vs)

a. Effectiveness of technologies

i. Personal communicators – 49 MHz, 1/8 mi, $30+

ii. FRS (Family Radio Service) – 460 MHz, < 1 mi, $50+;jsessionid=80B86DA70396EBE884690AA02A5303B2.bbolsp-app05-28?_dyncharset=ISO-8859-1&_dynSessConf=79803387770493071&id=pcat17071&type=page&st=frs+radio&sc=Global&cp=1&nrp=15&sp=&qp=&list=n&iht=y&usc=All+Categories&ks=960

iii. (L) GMRS (General Mobile Radio) – 460 MHz,

iv. MURS (Multi-Use Radio) – 150 MHz,

v. CB (Citizens Band) – 27 MHz, 10’s to 100’s mi, $ 50 +

vi. (L) Amateur VHF/UHF – various freqs, 10+ mi, $ 100 +

vii. Marine VHF – 150 MHz,

viii. (L) Amateur HF – various freqs, 100’s + mi, $500 +

ix. OTHER Amateur Radio Equipment Sources (I am not affiliated with Universal Radio)

b. Obfuscation and encryption (illegal under ‘rule of law’)

i. Code-phrases in plain text messages
ii. Voice “scramblers”

iii. Ciphers and codes

iv. PGP for text attachments over radio email

3. Be creative in use of your available technology

a. Community / neighborhood solutions

i. Internet – ‘private’ IRC, VoIP, email
ii. Runners, semaphore, optical semaphore

iii. Community radio “net” – protocol and scripts
iv. Field radio OPS – protocol and scripts
v. Grid-down SHTF – solar chargers and batteries

b. “Wire” your neighborhood to avoid radiation

i. Copper pairs, coax, optic fiber
ii. Local telegraph or telephone

c. Use radio technology in unexpected ways

i. Perimeter warning systems with VOX operated HT’s, baby monitors

d. Use radio technology to spread mis-information

i. HT’s used with digital voice recorders to simulate field ops

4. Attempt to “hide in plain sight”

a. In the ‘shadow’ of commercial broadcast
b. Use an ‘unexpected’ mode on an ‘unusual’ frequency

i. Cross band operation to extend range of VHF / UHF gear

ii. Vintage amateur gear is capable of “out of band” operation (illegal …)

c. Shorten messages with ‘brevity codes’

d. Digital modes operating “at the noise level”

5. Acknowledge the existence of very real threats

a. If you ‘radiate’, someone will hear you
b. Many “bad actors” will employ active surveillance

i. Predators will listen with gear like yours

c. ARES (especially RACES) are “in bed” with State EM organizations
d. FedGov will employ electronic triangulation

i. Compass bearing in fraction of a second

6. Realize you will never hear “them” coming

a. Gov and Mil use technology we can’t afford
b. E.g. contemporary battlefield radio

i. Wide-band and spread spectrum equipment
ii. Type1 Encryption (US Top Secret)

7. Licensing for amateur radio


Field radio station at Brocks’ PATCON, 6 October 2012, Princeville NC

The operating desk:  telegraphy, voice and radio email … HF, VHF, UHF equipment

Improvised mast for all-band HF antenna:  inverted V doublet fed with ladder line

Plugin by: PHP Freelancer
This entry was posted in Editorial, Education and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Joe Wood
8 years ago

While browsing, I noticed that Digital two-way radios might be a good addition to your site. These send encrypted messages, and are typically free from FCC fees. Here’s a link to these type radios:

8 years ago
Reply to  Joe Wood


I would be happy to test and review a DTR 550 for