Ken Reid, GA-CEM

ARES Emergency Coordinator, Atlanta

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In the event you need to engage your Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), or Orders of Succession (OOS), do you also have a plan to ensure your communications capabilities? This can happen in the event that cell or internet service is overloaded or down, making your communications facility inoperable, whether your needs are short or long-range.

The good news is that a back-up communications system and process can save the day, even in the most challenging scenarios, to meet both short-range needs—from within your facility to city-wide—to long-range needs —for regional and national reach.

Hand-held Very High Frequency (VHF) radios have practical ranges from several hundred feet to city-wide. If you are dealing with sensitive operations, encryption is a feature of higher-end VHF radios. High Frequency (HF) radios can help you reach across the region or nationally.

Government, industry, and disaster response agencies and some other entities can use the federal SHARES (SHAred RESources) HF radio system. Local EMAs (Emergency Management Agencies) may have a relationship with their area Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers to help when normal communications are down or to facilitate communications in an area where they are not available at all.

If your communications facility is inaccessible or inoperable, you’ll need a contingency plan to relocate to another facility or area. If your issue is limited in scope to, say, a few unusable floors or areas, a cache of Handy Talkie (HT) radios could address the need. Another option may be texting, which sometimes continues to work even when voice cell service is overwhelmed, as long as the cell sites are still up.

For long-range communications, your options range in portability and performance: from Satellite phones to High Frequency (HF) radios, and briefcase-sized Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspots, up to large dish devices that can carry a very large bandwidth.

Acquiring the back-up equipment to meet your needs, designating and training operators who are on (or integrated with) your team, will ensure practical use and success.


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