Most Amateur Radio emergency Radio Communications preparedness discussion I have seen recently seem to only focus on radio equipment ideas and emergency communication procedures and protocals when preparing a personal "go kit"
To be well equipped and adequately prepared to operate in the field during real time disaster relief functions. I would suggest preparing yourself as if you were "an army of one."
For example, your compass, footwear, raingear should work just as well - if not better than your radio equipment.
If it is civil disaster you are preparing for then I would recommend looking at how the military equips. themselves for field operations.
Army web belts are great for making the ultimate "go kit". Each pouch attached to them serves it's own catagorized function. For this purpose I would suggest using a "Go Belt" instead of a "Go Kit"
Web belts distribute weight more evenly over your body than a backback does. This way you are are more mobile in disaster relief situations. Equipment access is faster and easier than a backpack and more organized. Foe example a flashlight could be located on the front outside of the web belt for quicker access.
Here's a photo of a typical miltary style web belt as I am describing:http://www.usmilitarysurplus.com/surpluscatalog/product_info.php?cPath=58&products_id=327
One pouch of the web belt could be used for a complete first aid kit,(you can purchase these for these belts) another pouch could be used for emergency signalling purposes (Portable strobe light, whistle, small air horn, signal flares, smoke canister etc.)
Pouches can be added or attached, removed, detached or re arranged on this belt in virtually any fashion to suit your needs.
You could mount a commercial type stainless steel mobile 2m/440 dual band antenna on the rear strap behind your back behind your shoulder. (see web belt photo above paying particular attention to the steel loop located near the top of the shoulder - the rear has the same loop that can be used to secure your "backpack style" antenna) J-poles are nice to build for a typical go kit, but they are after all made of copper tubing and break very easily. A good mobile whip antenna with some db gain behind it is probobly more powerful and more portable. Stainless steel will stand up stronger to abuse in the field.
A single or dual 7 A.H. lead acid battery pack could be located in the rear pouch behind your back in the "fanny pack section" (see web belt photo) and wired to your HT. This much battery power could even power a small 50 watt mobile rig.
One could literally wear a mobile rig in a small ventilated pouch on your chest using the web belt to keep it secured it in front of you. This would provide you with a powerful and portable 50 watt emergency field radio. Wearing your radio on your chest would ensure you could operate all controls and radio functions and provide ease of operation. Your speaker mic would be clipped to the web belt on the front strap near your shoulder close to your ear. The pouch would have a flap that could cover the front display panel to protect it from the weather if so required.
One pouch could carry a GPS and compass (yes carry both -you might lose one!) I would suggest buying a "miliary air force style hand compass" or "engineers compass" Stay away from cheap dollar store type compasses for your go belt.
Military Style Compass Photo:http://www.usmilitarysurplus.com/surpluscatalog/product_info.php?cPath=78&products_id=648
Carry area maps folded in ziplock bags to map out areas of activity or specific events. You could also take a "waterproof notepad" yes, they do sell these - They are currently used by law enforcement to actually write things on them in the rain.
Cardinal rules for your emergency kits:
1. Always carry a sustainable source of heat and light on your person.
"Sterno" stove? - Portable "coleman" folding backpack stoves work best. They only weigh a few ounces and are and very compact. You can also find portable gas lanterns that are of similar and small design. They will work much longer for you than carrying a single flashlight. Remember extra batteries for flashlights weigh more than extra fuel. You can buy a small stainless steel fuel canister made for backpacks. these are made by a company called "Sigg" for this purpose.
Here are some suggested links:
Ultralight Stove & Lantern:http://www.gearreview.com/MSR_Pocket_Rocket.phphttp://www.gearreview.com/Brunton_Glorb.php
Sigg Fuel Container:http://www.edirectory.co.uk/pf/pages/moreinfoa.asp?pe=BDBDIHFQ_+600Ml+Fuel+Sigg+Bottle+Red+Mountain&cid=880
A note on spare batteries:
If you do carry extra batteries make sure all your portable equipment uses the same type battery. I would suggest "AA" because they are small and they pack very easily.
2. Always carry rope and duct tape. (Multi Function)
Can be used to repair antennas or repair a tear in your raingear or other clothing. Perhaps it can repair a blowout to your footwear. Rope can also be used to make an emergency shelter, or can be used for a rescue attempt. Rope can be used to stop the bleeding from a severed limb, or be used to make a splint. You can use it to make a stretcher. You can use it to string up an antenna. You can recycle your rope for many uses over and over again.
My point is - Always carry rope! Be sure to always buy the "white nylon" variety, not the "yellow plastic" type. 25 feet or so can be easily compacted into a go kit and is plenty.
3. Always carry a food source & water.
Water bottles are designed to be worn on these web belts. Sealed MRE packs work best as food and dont taste too bad either. They have a 10 year shelf life and won't spoil. These are designed to provide all the nessesary nutrients for servicemen in the field during combat operations (they even have salt, pepper, forks, knifes, spoons, and napkins built right in to them too!) - So I suppose they would work just as well in your emergency go kit during Disaster Relief efforts.
Here is a photo of MRE packs: http://www.armynavysuperstores.com/mre.jpg
You may also wish to carry "paramedic" style shears. These can cut virtually anything from seatbelts to coaxial cable if need be. The point is that it is a single tool that has many uses in disaster relief situations.
Paramedic Shears Photo:http://shop.store.yahoo.com/asuperbuy/rescueshears.html
Multi function tools are good to take along, but I would suggest that if it is not equipped with pliers in them - that you buy a seperate small pair for your kit. You will be surprised to find out how many uses a single pair of pliers have in many situations.
Forget about waterproof matches. Carry spare lighters in small sealed containers or ziplock bags.
This is the 20th century and waterproof matches have a high failure rate. Why? because if the matches are dry and the striker becomes wet, what good is that?
Always carry at least 2 spare lighters. (in case one breaks or stops working)
Your feet are your most important resource to protect. If you can't walk due to a foot injury resulting from footwear failure -you are then rendered incapacitated. Purchase "storm proof" footwear to keep your feet dry. Your ankles can be protected from accidental sprains if you purchase military style boots that are designed for this purpose.
Heres some photos:http://www.perrets.com/st_main.html?p_catid=26
5. Rain Gear
Nylon "breathable" & packable raingear sealed in a ziplock pouch inside your "Go Belt" will ensure you are always dry and warm. Did you know it is possible to get hypothermia even when the temperature is 60 degrees outside!
"Packable" Nylon Raingear photos:http://www.cabelas.com/information/Clothing-Casual/Cabelas-Packable-Nylon-Rain-Gear0013616.html
Did you know that a CD disk is very lightweight and can be used as an emergency signalling device?
Don't just learn about emergency radio communication protocals and procedures alone. Get CPR and First Aid certifications. Learn more about the art of survival if you should get lost, stranded, or have an accident.
Being prepared for communication emergencies should always include personal preparedness in any go kit stategy.
Please share your thoughts, experiences and ideas for improvements or additions as required on this topic.
Charles - KC8VWM