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Author Topic: Hypothetical regulation question  (Read 5715 times)
AD9DX
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Posts: 1477




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« on: August 24, 2012, 03:40:50 PM »

Well, this almost didn't become hypothetical.  I work for a dialysis company as a technical manager.  I had the opportunity to fly down to Florida tonight and help get some of the clinics in the hurricane path ready for the storm. 

Lets say (here is the hypothetical part) that there was wide spread communications failures because of the storm.  If I had taken a portable radio and a budipole with me, would I be able to use it to coordinate relief supplies for the facilities I was helping?  I am wondering because the company would be paying me to be there. 

Thanks,   
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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
K2OWK
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Posts: 1056




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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2012, 09:05:06 PM »

I would guess this would be considered an emergency situation. The company would pay you for being there, but not for the emergency. If this was an emergency with life and property in jeopardy, basically as far as comunications goes, you can use anything at your means to help with the emergency.

73s

K2OWK
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AD9DX
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Posts: 1477




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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2012, 04:33:40 AM »

I would guess this would be considered an emergency situation. The company would pay you for being there, but not for the emergency. If this was an emergency with life and property in jeopardy, basically as far as comunications goes, you can use anything at your means to help with the emergency.

73s

K2OWK

That was my thinking.  And radio operating would not be my only job while there.  I think it would be a lot of fun to go down and help, but I guess this time, I will just listen to the hurricane net.
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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
AA4PB
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Posts: 12801




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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2012, 06:54:57 AM »

It's okay that the employer paid for your trip down there. It's okay if you operate the radio on off-duty (non-pay) hours. It's *not* okay for your employer to pay you a salary to operate the radio, especially handling traffic for your employer.

If you are involved in an immediate threat to live and/or property then you can use anything available to alleviate the problem.
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AD9DX
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Posts: 1477




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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2012, 02:52:28 PM »

It's okay that the employer paid for your trip down there. It's okay if you operate the radio on off-duty (non-pay) hours. It's *not* okay for your employer to pay you a salary to operate the radio, especially handling traffic for your employer.

If you are involved in an immediate threat to live and/or property then you can use anything available to alleviate the problem.


That's the grey area to me... Hemodialysis is life sustaining treatment to patients.  So if coordinating supplies/relief for life sustaining treatment seems plausible for the last caveat.   
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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
AA4PB
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Posts: 12801




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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2012, 04:11:05 PM »

Scenario #1: You employer sends you into the area for some reason and while you are there a disaster occurs. You happen to have a ham station with you. During your off duty hours you voluntarily coordinate delivery of emergency supplies to a hospital. Not so much problem with that scenario.

Scenario #2: Your employer doesn't want to spend the money to provide satellite communication services so he decides to save money by sending you into the area to set up and operate a ham station to coordinate delivery of his emergency supplies to a hospital. Now you aren't operating as a volunteer, but are being paid by your employer to do that. Both you and your employer are receiving financial benefit from your ham radio operation. I expect that would violate the FCC rules.

I think a lot depends on whether you and the employer are doing this as a pre-planned thing or if it is something that just happened.  In any case, you should not be receiving pay during the time you are operating the radio.

I recall some discussion a while back involving ARRL and FCC where some hospitals wanted to set up a ham station in the hospital and run classes to get employees licensed to operate it in the event that they lost their primary communications.

« Last Edit: August 25, 2012, 04:15:41 PM by AA4PB » Logged
KD0REQ
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Posts: 900




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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2012, 06:48:01 PM »

9DX... think "immediate."  most dialysis patients can probably go a day without treatment, or a half day.  assuming the kilocycle kops were barging into every door and checking your time clock cards, you could be in trouble.

"immediate" would be more like bodies are floating down the street, and you are coordinating a net to pull inside the ones that are face up and shivering.  that's the grey area if you were operating while overseeing a bank of dialysis patients hooked up and pumping.  I would not want to have a lawyer on retainer trying to get me off the hook, I don't think it would work.

now, assuming the clinics are holding their patients for the next couple days in the cafeteria and nobody is in trouble, and assuming you are working a net from the motel room, and assuming you told your boss, "eh, nothing to do, so give me vacation for two days while I try and help the authorities here," then nobody would have any issues.  you can do anything you want to do on vacation, it's your time.

pardon the scenario, but business band... OK.  satellite phones, OK, assuming the band didn't wash out from the precip blocking the signal.  that's how I see it as a plain old Joe.
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AD6KA
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Posts: 2237




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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2012, 07:45:53 PM »

Lets say (here is the hypothetical part) that there was wide spread communications failures because of the storm. If I had taken a portable radio and a budipole with me, would I be able to use it to coordinate relief supplies for the facilities I was helping?  I am wondering because the company would be paying me to be there.  
Thanks,  
If you were not familiar with the local ham emergency groups,
frequencies used, protocols and priorities for handling emergency
traffic, names & locations of local hospitals, local law enforcement,
FEMA, etc.......
I would just stay off the air completely.

Just because there is an emergency and you have
a radio and antenna doesn't mean that you can jump in and
help out without prior training and regular participation
in local drills.


This may not be your situation....just sayin'.

Most times the best thing you can do to help
in a REAL emergency is stay OFF the air.


73, Ken  AD6KA
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AE6RV
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Posts: 146




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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2012, 09:50:00 PM »

The fact that the company is paying your salary while you are doing this is not necessarily the same thing as the company paying you to use a ham radio.  The FCC is not going to jail you or fine you if you are providing a public service during an emergency, regardless of the circumstances.  OTOH, as AD6KA points out, unless the circumstances are truly unique and there are no local trained EmComm operators, then it's unlikely you will be able to help. 
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AA4PB
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Posts: 12801




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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2012, 07:42:46 AM »

"The fact that the company is paying your salary while you are doing this is not necessarily the same thing as the company paying you to use a ham radio." 

But it could be. If the company is paying you for 8 hrs a day work and you are spending 4 of those work hours operating the ham radio then you are being paid to use a ham radio. You need to make sure that any ham radio activity is being done during non-payed hours. Even a real emergency doesn't somehow permit you to be paid to provide amateur radio communications.

"The FCC is not going to jail you or fine you if you are providing a public service during an emergency, regardless of the circumstances."

I wouldn't count on that if you do it on a regular basis or if it somehow becomes an issue brought to their attention.

The safe thing to do may be to contact the local ARES or local officals and let then coordinate the requests for supplies to your company rather than getting on the air and doing it yourself. That avoids the appearance that your company is using amateur radio as a part of their business.
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KB4QAA
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Posts: 2340




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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2012, 05:47:57 AM »

-Ham radio is not intended to be an "alternative means of communications' for businesses

-Companies have a responsibility to customers and shareholders to have plans for emergencies that can reasonably be expected to occur.

-The company emergency comm plans should not be "send Joe, he has a ham radio".

-The company should arrange beforehand for other methods such as Inmarsat, Iridium, Commercial licensed 2-way, MURS, FRS etc.

-Before calling on ham radio, a business must exhaust all other methods of meeting the emergency.  In this case...transporting urgent cases to hospital ER, delaying/rearranging facility patient schedule or hours of operation, coordinating with other facilities to take load.

-Before activing ham radio, company officers should be willing to certify to the FCC that violating FCC regulations was necessary for the IMMEDIATE safeguarding of life or limb. 

Bottom line:  No company can pretend they aren't expecting hurricanes in Florida every year.  If they really need comms, then there is no excuse for not shelling out the money for legal modes.  Especially if it is to protect lives, right? Right?
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WB6DGN
Member

Posts: 612




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« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2012, 07:59:37 AM »

Quote
That's the grey area to me...

Nothing "gray" about it.  The following bears repeating.
-Ham radio is not intended to be an "alternative means of communications' for businesses

-Companies have a responsibility to customers and shareholders to have plans for emergencies that can reasonably be expected to occur.

-The company emergency comm plans should not be "send Joe, he has a ham radio".

-The company should arrange beforehand for other methods such as Inmarsat, Iridium, Commercial licensed 2-way, MURS, FRS etc.

-Before calling on ham radio, a business must exhaust all other methods of meeting the emergency.  In this case...transporting urgent cases to hospital ER, delaying/rearranging facility patient schedule or hours of operation, coordinating with other facilities to take load.

-Before activing ham radio, company officers should be willing to certify to the FCC that violating FCC regulations was necessary for the IMMEDIATE safeguarding of life or limb.

Bottom line:  No company can pretend they aren't expecting hurricanes in Florida every year.  If they really need comms, then there is no excuse for not shelling out the money for legal modes.  Especially if it is to protect lives, right? Right?

Tom

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