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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Nat. EMERGENCY Frequency needed

from DR on June 18, 2000
Website: http://www.nconnect.net
View comments about this article!


HAM Radio NEEDS a dedicated NATIONAL EMERGENCY Frequency!

by Dale R. Kubichek, N6JSX

_____________________________________________________________________

Have you ever been traveling and come upon a severe vehicle accident requiring immediate EMERGENCY life-saving assistance or an imminent need to report a dangerous road hazard? You begin calling for help on ALL the listed repeaters to discover you can't bring up any of the repeaters. Or no one is monitoring the ONLY repeater that you can key up. Most repeater guides do not annotate THE DOMINATE or wide-area coverage repeaters. Often I found many of the listed repeaters may NOT even be operational and the PL tones are wrong or not listed at all. All of this assumes that you have a repeater guide with you during your travels! I've blindly called on 146.520 MHz simplex (National Calling frequency) for help only to get NO response.

While commuting home from Milwaukee in a winter blizzard making Interstate-43 a single lane snow covered slippery mess, I spotted three occupied vehicles in the ditch. I tried in vain to raise any HAM on many area repeaters adjacent to I-43. As typical no one was monitoring.

During major holiday weekends I've found the CB REACT groups monitoring channel 9 and 19, but seldom do I find this type of effort on HAM radio except in California. From San Jose, Sacramento, and Fresno to the Bakersfield grade in the San Joaquin Valley, a stretch of hundreds of miles, local HAM's link many two meter repeaters and run a 24 hour Travelers NET covering most of Interstate-5 and Highway 99. They provide updated weather information, road conditions, and EMERGENCY reporting access to traveling Amateur's. This is an outstanding service but it is only good if you know the repeater frequencies used in the link.

Part 97.1.a - states that part of Amateur Radio's CHARTER is "EMERGENCY communications" and yet we have NO special frequency to assist "everyday local EMERGENCIES." Part 97 Rules specifies certain band spectrum for beacons, simplex/QRP, CW, satellite, and repeater operations. But there is NO SPECIFIC EMERGENCY frequency in Part 97.

I propose that 146.550 MHz FM be made the

United States Amateur Radio NATIONAL EMERGENCY (simplex) FREQUENCY!

EMERGENCY communications are defined as communications concerning the immanent pearl to human life or loss of personal property. Communications concerning hazards to the public's safety that may cause a loss of life or property.

Other communications services have a specific EMERGENCY calling frequency or channel. CB has channel nine (27.065 MHz), boaters have Marine VHF channel sixteen (156.800 MHz), the International Maritime Distress frequency is 2182 KHz, and the Aviation EMERGENCY frequency is 121.500 MHz.

The 146.550 MHz was selected for this effort due to accommodating most old and new 2 meter transceivers. This frequency is not, typically, a repeater frequency or in the satellite, CW, or beacon operational areas. Local area repeaters (on 6m, 2m, 220, 440, etc.) could monitor this SINGLE frequency with an auxiliary receiver. When a signal is received on 146.550 MHz, with either the EMERGENCY PL tone (recommended 100.0 Hz) or a DTMF tone of at least three seconds (recommended DTMF #0), i.e. LTZ, long-term-zero, the repeater could automatically re-transmit the received audio through a local repeater. This would alert monitoring HAM's that a need of immediate assistance is being requested on 146.550 MHz.

Amateur's in rural areas using a scanner or a simple crystal monitoring receiver could detect an EMERGENCY transmission on 146.550 MHz. This rural HAM could then render assistance separate from any repeater service. This frequency gives ALL of Amateur Radio (and SWL's) a single focal point frequency across the USA to monitor or to use in getting EMERGENCY HELP!

The traveling Amateur would NO longer need repeater guides or repeater PL knowledge to get EMERGENCY life-saving assistance. Just a FM transceiver that can transmit on 146.550 MHz .

The 2 meter band is the MOST logical beginning for this, type of dedicated, EMERGENCY frequency as 2 meters is the most commonly used HAM band with nearly all scanners covering this frequency, the most hand-held, and mobile transceivers in Amateur operation.

This single EMERGENCY frequency (with PL tone) could be pre-programmed into one of your transceiver memories allowing easy and quick access. This would also eliminate the dangerous operation of trying multiple repeater frequencies and PL tones while driving down the highway.

Soon a Petition for Rulemaking will be sent to the FCC, Washington DC. This Petition will need ALL our support to get this NATIONAL Amateur Radio EMERGENCY FREQUENCY accepted into the Part 97 Rules.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
EMERGENCY 2-M FREQ.  
by W3GJD on June 18, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
YES!!!!!!
 
RE: EMERGENCY 2-M FREQ.  
by W5HTW on June 18, 2000 Mail this to a friend!

146.55 has been a standard simplex frequency, and I would encourage its use as a National Emergency Frequency. In this area, it is rarely used - as far as I know - for routine simplex transmission, as most of those are on 52 or 58, or even 41. I'm not sure a petition to the FCC is required, or will even do any good, since the FCC has not normally been inclined to force us to use specific frequencies for specific purposes, other than to fit into the mode of operation (SSB, CW, etc.) In other words, we use, for example, 14300 as the Maritime Mobile Service Net, but it is not an FCC-designated emergency frequency, unless it receives protected status during an actual emergency in progress. Other frequencies enjoy the same level of protection, such as the Southwest Hurricane Net, and the Hurricane Net along the East Coast. The approach has been to use the frequency, to declare an emergency where necessary, and to depending upon the courtesy of other amateurs to offer a clear and usable channel.

It should be noted Channel 9 of the CB radio service was simply "picked" by CBers, as was Channel 19, but enjoyed no particular FCC orders that required non-emergency communication to steer clear of those channels. Not so for aeronautical radio, for 121.5 is a designated emergency-only frequency. I was under the impression marine channel 16 was a "calling channel," not an emergency only channel, but it has been a long time since I've been in the marine radio business.

None of this is meant to throw cold water on this project. Quite the opposite. I, too, have come across an accident of serious consequences, and spent more than three minutes trying area repeaters, during rush hour, and received no answer at all. Meanwhile, people on cell phones have reported the accident and acquired help. My own cell phone would not work in that area -- wrong service - so I was doubly frustrated!

So I think it is a wonderful idea. I'm just not sure it needs, or will get, FCC designation as an emergency channel, in a ruling that would keep others from using it. In fact, that discourages monitoring, as many people with scanning receivers will tend to block that channel out, in order to move on to other channels.

But explore the options. If it seems workable, I'll try to promote it in New Mexico.

Ed, W5HTW
 
RE: Nat. EMERGENCY Frequency needed  
by AB7RG on June 18, 2000 Mail this to a friend!

I think this is a GREAT idea. After all, like the author points out, CB and Marine radios have emergency frequencies which are monitored. Do we, as Amateurs really want to be outdone by CB? I don't know how many times that I've heard fellow Amateurs say while traveling across the US they can't find anyone on 146.520 but did find someone on Channel 9 of their CB. Odd...

Okay, now you're thinking that if Amateurs don't monitor 146.520 now, what makes you think that they will monitor a "new" frequency? Well the fact that it would be specifically reserved for emergency communications comes to mind. How many ARES nets get checked into weekly? The answer, a lot! Amateurs love emergency communication abilities, we take pride in this. So I'm quite sure that everyone would take pride in having the national emergency frequency in their HT's, mobiles, and even base setups. I would for one. Sure repeaters are great and are your best bet in an emergency, there's usually one or more that you can hit, but it would be nice to have a dedicated frequency.

Alright Dale, let us know when you send in the petition and let's start signing up. We can sit and do nothing (or complain), or we can add in a potentially life saving frequency to a very common Amatuer Radio band. Be a part of the solution or...

73, Clinton Herbert AB7RG
V.E. -- ARRL/W5YI
Member ARES

 
RE: EMERGENCY 2-M FREQ.  
by N1YLN on June 18, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Why not just monitor 146.52? It is the NAtional Simplex Calling freq. I know around here guys get on and ragchew occationally but they shouldn't. The idea behind the Calling Freq. is just that. Get on and call, once contact is made move off to another simplex freq. I think 146.52 is more of a catch-all, road directions, weather, highway traveling and Emergency. Having a calling freq. AND an Emergency freq. to monitor means twice the monitoring and most of us only have one radio on the air at a time. Just set the rig to .52 and you'll help MORE than just emergencys...

Ed N1YLN
 
RE: EMERGENCY 2-M FREQ.  
by AC7CF on June 18, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Around here we have a repeater that is monitored 24 hours a day by A.R.E.S, but unfortunately it doesn't have very wide coverage. I think a national simplex emergency frequency is a good idea. Having a way to patch it through to a wide coverage, well-used/monitored repeater is also a good idea.

73,
Andrew R. Madsen AC7CF
http://www.qsl.net/ac7cf
 
RE: Nat. EMERGENCY Frequency needed  
by WD4HVA on June 18, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
This proposal sounds good if you read it really fast but it doesn't solve the problem it attempts to solve. Think about it - if you cannot raise anyone on a repeater then you probably won't raise anyone on a dedicated emergency frequency. The problems with this proposal include:

1. In many parts of the country the ham population density isn't high enough to justify a dedicated emergency channel. We're a rural area, with many hams living in places where they cannot install a big tower with the antenna required to provide communications on such a simplex channel. This means that if you used the emergency channel concept here, you'd be dependent upon the handful of hams with the resources to set up an emergency frequency monitor. The majority of hams wouldn't monitor it because their stations don't support simplex communications much over a mile or so. If you were out in one of the nature preserves near here and tried to get help on a simplex frequency, the monitoring station would have to have a tall tower and a beam antenna pointed at your location to have a chance of hearing you. Simplex just doesn't work over the 40 to 50 miles of hilly terrain. That's why we have repeaters in the first place! They are located to provide better coverage for people using handheld and mobile transceivers without having to have a tower, beam, preamp and all the other nice "big station" items.

2. The population density of the ham population also leads to the second problem with this suggestion. If nobody is around to monitor the frequency then it doesn't matter what kind of status the frequency has. It can be formally mandated as the "emergency channel" or informally used as such, but if nobody is listening then it won't do you any good. You might try to require people to monitor, but many stations might monitor it but be totally ineffective because of antenna and equipment limitations. If even a "big gun" station operator is away from their station (working or otherwise not in the shack) then even if they have the best equipment it wouldn't do any good.

3. There is a basic philosophical objection in the Amateur service for asking for the FCC to mandate an "emergency frequency". These kinds of usages are best set up by mutual agreement - any other kind of usage could lead to people asking for other specific frequency assignments for whatever their particular percieved need is.

There are other problems with this proposal, but I won't go into detail about them at this time. There are other alternatives which would be better than asking the FCC to create an "Emergency frequency" designation. Here's a short quick list of some ideas that wouldn't require FCC action.

First, get the repeater coordinators to agree that no repeater can be properly coordinated without having some kind of emergency access system. How about requiring all repeaters to open up on a specified subaudible tone or even with a LITZ tone. If the repeater has an autopatch, require that activation of the LITZ tone followed by a ##911 code would dial 911 so the emergency could be reported. This has the advantage of bypassing the problem of nobody listening to the repeater (or emergency channel) and also spreads the cost to a repeater group which presumably can draw on more resources than individual hams can provide. By making this a requirement for recognized coordination it would be implimented much more uniformly than a haphazard, totally voluntary "emergency frequency" which in most parts of the country would just become a frequency to avoid.

Second, work on education of the ham and non-ham scanner listeners. Create a standard emergency declaration that people could recognize and react to. Something along the lines of "This is WX4XYZ with an emergency request for assistance. I am at <mile marker NN on Interstate ZZ>,<five miles past the intersection of highway KK and state route OO>,<location information> and there has been a <car wreck>,<bridge washout>,<emergency information>. Anyone hearing this call please contact <911>,<EMS>,<fire department>,<police>,<agency requested> immediately." If there was some kind of recognizable format along with a pre-broadcast use of a LITZ tone you might even get scanner listeners to use a LITZ decoder and monitor the repeaters. In the town where I live I've heard (and issued) emergency calls using the introduction "ANY STATION - I HAVE AN EMERGENCY" or even the old "MAYDAY MAYDAY". The key to any kind of emergency doesn't depend on using an "emergency frequency" - it depends upon having people actually listening and available to pass on the request for assistance.

Third, do some Elmering and recruitment. Getting more hams on the air and getting them active would go a long way towards making it possible to raise someone on a repeater.

Fourth, work towards a culture shift in the Amateur community. Get people to move their thinking away from the current mentality that has given us closed repeaters that nobody listens to or that have no activity for days at a time. I've listened to many repeaters while travelling where their is a definite "my frequency" mindset and "outsiders" are not welcome. While on vacation in Southern California several years ago I listened to one repeater where the owner and his buddy quickly informed anyone who showed up on the repeater that it was closed and they'd better get off the repeater. The two of them had their own little empire and nobody was welcome for any reason... I also talked to stations on other repeaters where people were friendly and helped a visiting ham find his way around the area. In many parts of the country this would also ease the problem of too many repeaters and nobody to talk to. Just look at the repeater density in parts of the country - you've got places where there is a repeater on every channel pair, most of them are closed or otherwise hostile to helping anyone or doing anything except having a "quiet channel" to monitor. The idea here is that in many cases multiple repeater groups could join together to create a much better supported repeater which would actually have the users available to monitor it.

Finally, emergency communications is important to Amateur Radio. Many of us have been involved in this type of activity for many years. Any choice of methods to pursue improving emergency communications must include some thought about what kinds of stations will be required to put the improvements into action, what kinds of emergency response will be improved, and where the operators to work in the improved environment will come from. Asking the FCC to designate an "Emergency frequency" is a more of a bureaucrat's response instead of an innovator's response. As Amateur Radio operators we should be innovators, not bureaucrats. Any solution to this problem should be easy to put into action in a wide variety of situations without additional rules, regulations or other non-productive overhead.
 
Designated Emergency Frequency  
by N9YBP on June 18, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
The "wilderness net" uses 146.52 so making another freq for emergencies seems redundant. If no one is listening then no one is listening. 146.52 is on the scanner with the repeaters so if you are not heard there then probaly no ham is available to help.
 
National Emergency Frequency  
by K5MAR on June 19, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I think the idea is basically good, but I do have my doubts about the practicality of implementation. Getting people to listen will be tough. However, a standard emergency frequency would make it easier to call for help if you are in an unfamiliar area.

Several notes here: First: 146.55 has been nominated for use by storm chasers as a nation-wide simplex working freq. See http://www.hamsnet.net/kc5trr/simplex.htm

Second: CB radio Ch. 9 WAS (and still is, as far as I know) mandated by the FCC in Part 95 as the national emergency CB channel. Examples were given as to the types of permitted/not-permitted traffic.

Third: Marine Ch. 16 is designated as a "calling/distress" frequency.

Fourth: Law enforcement has a national emergency VHF frequency of 155.475 mhz but it is little used.

Considering all the above, it seems to me the better idea would be to recognize 146.52 mhz as a calling/distress frequency similar to marine ch. 16. Recommend that all ARES groups establish some sort of watch requirement. I personally have several Plectron Alert monitors and had already planned on equiping one of them to monitor 146.52, using a simple groundplane antenna on my tower. Old scanners, that backup 2 meter rig gathering dust in the closet, anything can be used. A second receiver on your repeater that can be enabled in an emergency might be an idea. The idea is to get it recognized some way, and people will start to listen.

Mark K5MAR
 
Comment on Emergency Frequency  
by WF0H on June 19, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I think I would side with those advocating a general calling channel of 146.52. Let's apply the LITZ and emergency PL tone ideas to that. Make it a general calling channel too, so you can use it find a QSO (and then move to a repeater or other simplex freq) when you are driving cross country.
 
National Emergency Frequency  
by KK9H on June 20, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I also think this is a great idea. My thoughts are to make the frequency
146.52 since most people probably have this already programmed into
their radios. I like the idea of also establishing a standard PL tone which
would allow people to put their radios into CTCSS mode if they wanted
to monitor 146.52, but not have to listen to non-emergency traffic. A PL
tone of 100.0 Hz is a good choice because it is easily remembered. If a
repeater club wanted to make their repeater available for any emergency
calls, many repeater controllers permit transceivers to be connected as
remote bases. There are many inexpensive 2M radios which are CTCSS
capable that would be perfect for this. I, for one, would be delighted to
leave my 2M radio on 146.52 to monitor for emergency calls when I am
not using it for other purposes.
 
RE: EMERGENCY 2-M FREQ.  
by KA9ZIM on June 20, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I like the idea of 146.52 with the 100 Hz PL. I do try to monitor 146.52, but I usually end up turning down the volume or changing the freq all together when a QSO becomes established on the frequency. The use of a PL would permit non emergency traffic to occupy the frequency without bothering those of us monitoring. For those operating complex radios that would rather not have to deal with turning the PL off for normal use and back on for emergency calls I would suggest programing two memory channels for 146.52 simplex. One without PLs and one with PL 100 Hz encode and decode. This entire conversation points out the need for more people to keep their repeater guides in their car glove compartment. I don't think its an accident that the ARRL repeater guide is as small as it is.
 
RE: EMERGENCY 2-M FREQ.  
by K9MGX on June 21, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
For many years, I have traveled coast to coast and border to border with AT&T testing cellular service. This has been as much as 40,000 miles of windshield time per year until recently retired. I have found that 146.52 is mostly underused everywhere! Therefore I have always taken my CB radio with me in both company vehicles and in my own cars and van so that I have highway info from truckers (most are really good guys) and direct contact to State Police vehicles as may be required. Also while monitoring .52 as I travel, it is mostly unused. That one frequency is sufficient; we should all be encouraged to monitor it more.
It seems to me that another aviation frequency was/is 243.00 MHz.
 
Emergency 2m freq  
by W6AMH on June 21, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I live in the Mojave desert where there are often emergencies involving hams or where hams are present. Motorcycle and off-road vehicle accidents are common and long stretches of sparsely traveled roads across the desert are often the scene of accidents. Weather related emergencies and search and rescue ops are also common here.
I monitor CB Ch 9 (especially on weekends and holidays) because I know there are many 4WD enthusiasts that primarily use CB radio. I scan all the local repeaters and several simplex freqs (including 146.52) with my Yaesu FT-2400 which does not lock on to a channel but stays for a few seconds and moves on with the scan. I also monitor the local law enforcement and fire freqs as well as 146.52 on my scanner. Of course all this noise drives my non-ham wife nuts.
I think that more dedicated use of 146.52 for emergency traffic is prudent. I was taught that for calling pruposes on .52 you establish contact and move to another freq., simplex if possible, or a local repeater that will provide the necessary coverage. Emergency use of this channel is prudent and many radios have it preprogrammed as a calling channel anyway.
I think that clubs and repeater groups should be encouraged to put up simplex repeaters on 146.52 to extend range in remote areas and monitor the frequency.
I also encourage all hams to look at APRS as an adjunct to emergency communications capability. Part of being prepared to travel in remote areas also implies some awareness of high level repeaters and other means of getting help if needed (cellular).
I don't think that FCC rule-making is necessary or prudent in this matter. We as hams should be aware and involved enough in this aspect of our hobby to not have to have this shoved down our throats, but a little organization can't hurt.
Alan Heaberlin W6AMH
 
RE: EMERGENCY 2-M FREQ.  
by K4SUS on June 21, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
NO! ANOTHER FREQ IS NOT NEEDED! I'VE TRAVELED ALL AROUND THIS GREAT COUNTRY AND HAVE MADE MANY CONTACTS ON 146.520 fm. I'VE NEVER HAD A PROBLEM LIKE SOME OF YOU MENTION. I THINK YOU NEED TO TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT YOUR MOBILE ANTENNA. YOU NEED THE BEST POSSIBLE 2M GAIN ANTENNA AND 25-50W+ (not an HT), TO BE ABLE TO WORK STATIONS AT 50-70 Mi. OUT ON FM SIMPLEX FROM YOUR MOBILE LIKE I CAN.

DO NOT PROMOTE 146.55 AS AN EMERGENCY CALL FREQ. WE HAVE BEEN USING THAT FREQ HERE IN FLORIDA FOR MANY YEARS AS A CHAT FREQ. AND YOU WOULD HAVE A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH THAT. SINCE WE ALREADY HAVE 146.520 THAT IS BEING USED FOR CALLING AND EMERGENCIES WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THAT ANYWAY? WHAT A STUPID SUGGESTION . WHY DON'T YOU JUST RUN A NICE MOBILE HF RIG AND THEN YOU COULD WORK ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD OR LOCAL ANY TIME OF THE DAY OR NITE. AGAIN, A VERY STUPID SUGGESTION, ANYTHING TO TRY TO TAKE AWAY SOMETHING, JUST LIKE GUN CONTROL, ETC. 73 TOM K4SUS (Real Ham-since 1963)
 
RE: EMERGENCY 2-M FREQ.  
by N5NJ on June 22, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Simplex:

While I understand the motivation to make the emergency frequency .52(because generally everyone has it), many people will not monitor it because of the normal day-to-day qsos going on there.

Selecting one of the other mostly un-used simplex channels as the emergency frequency would probably make more sense.

I would leave a radio on some other frequency if it was mostly quiet and didn't have random qsos going on.

Repeaters:

I know that it would be impossible to coordinate this, but I think that having a single repeater frequency designated accross the country as an emergency frequency would be a good thing too - especially in areas where simplex distance is limited. Of course, the repeater owners would have to agree to this.

Too bad little consideration was given to this sort of initiave years ago when all this repeater and FM business started.

What I'm driving at is that say, for example, 146.34/94 was the national emergency repeater frequency. If you established a repeater on that frequency, it's primary purpose would be required to provide emergency communications to that geographic area. It would by design require that the repeater be open to anyone (i.e.; no PL etc.) and also not support normal qso activity.

Of course, regularly scheduled nets and drills, or perhaps training would be an acceptable use too. Some repeater groups exist now for just this sort of reason. I think it may be too late to do it now, but perhaps some groups would agree to identify their repeater as an emergency repeater and have that designation published in the repeater directory etc.

 
proposal  
by KB9NGI on June 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
It seems to me that the problem is not fixed by the solution. If 146.520 is not being monitored, there is no reason to think another frequency will be.

That said, you have correctly identified a problem. The answer is not another FCC rule (don't we have enough?) but rather the fostering of a service minded ham community.

ARRL has a proposal out there for a new program of certificates awarded for demonstrating skills in various aspects of the 'radio art.' I rather suspect that the genesis of this was a way to recognize thouse who can do better than 5 wpm, but it is still a good idea. Something we do in BSA and I think GSUSA has a similar plan is to tie recognition to service. So for instance to be a First Class Scout, not only do you have to complete a number of skill tasks and merit badges, you must serve the troop as a youth leader AND satisfy a minimum community service hours requirement.

If we want to get more service into the Amatuer Radio Service, mayhaps we need to add more recognition for those who serve. So, make the (my term not the league's) "grand master cw certifcate" require 25 WPM, elmering at least two technicians to successful 5 WPM tests and demonstrating leadership in standby emergency service.

Thanks for raising the issue.

73
de KB9NGI
 
proposal  
by KB9NGI on June 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
It seems to me that the problem is not fixed by the solution. If 146.520 is not being monitored, there is no reason to think another frequency will be.

That said, you have correctly identified a problem. The answer is not another FCC rule (don't we have enough?) but rather the fostering of a service minded ham community.

ARRL has a proposal out there for a new program of certificates awarded for demonstrating skills in various aspects of the 'radio art.' I rather suspect that the genesis of this was a way to recognize thouse who can do better than 5 wpm, but it is still a good idea. Something we do in BSA and I think GSUSA has a similar plan is to tie recognition to service. So for instance to be a First Class Scout, not only do you have to complete a number of skill tasks and merit badges, you must serve the troop as a youth leader AND satisfy a minimum community service hours requirement.

If we want to get more service into the Amatuer Radio Service, mayhaps we need to add more recognition for those who serve. So, make the (my term not the league's) "grand master cw certifcate" require 25 WPM, elmering at least two technicians to successful 5 WPM tests and demonstrating leadership in standby emergency service.

Thanks for raising the issue.

73
de KB9NGI
 
National Emergency Frequency  
by N6NZH on June 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with the need for a specified emergency frequency. I have had the same experience of needing to make a contact when in an unfamiliar area and not having any idea how to contact someone. Even when you go through the repeater directory, there is nothing to indicate how active that repeater is or how likely it is that someone will be monitoring that frequency. And, let's face it, some repeater users simply don't respond to someone that they don't recognize as being part of their group.

Vaughn, N6NZH
 
National Emergency Freq. for Amature Radio  
by K4XRM on June 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I too would promote the National Simplex Freq as a calling/emergency freq such as used by the Marine Radio Ch16..and having noted one comment that the author has taken old single freq. VHF monitors used by numerous Vol. Fire Depts that are changing to UHF and 800-Mhz trunking systems, and converted them to single channel monitors for such a calling/emergency freq. Im currently working on converting one such unit to monitor the local SKYWARN net cause it gets so active this time of yr..but dont want to tie-up my transceiver by dedicating a band to just monitor. So, Lets promote the National Simplex Freq not only as a calling/emergency freq. but one to monitor as well by ARES groups, and even link a receiver to a wide area repeater that would alert repeater users/listeners that someone is on that freq. and probably needing assistance....my 2 cents. 73's Randy McCray KE4UCM/North Carolina.
 
National Emergency Frequency  
by N2EA on June 25, 2000 Mail this to a friend!

Thought provoking topic...and interesting replies.
A few key points found:

1) We already have 146.52 as an agreed upon calling
freq. Why not simply declare it the emergency freq?
We don't need another....and in dense population areas,
where ragchew useage is normal....let them move to another simplex freq. Overall, THERE IS STILL PLENTY OF ROOM ON THIS BAND, even in NYC.
We don't need an FCC ruling to make it so. Let ARRL adopt it and promote it.

2) Nobody is listening. Solution: A national program to
put 146.52 receivers at 911 nodes and other cop-shops.
I would recommend implementing a tone-alert, which could
be implemented with an acoustical accessory to accomodate existing/older rigs.
Coordinate with the Nat'l Assn. of Police Chiefs.
I would personally contribute one such receiver, and know
6 more guys in Vermont who would do the same.
Betcha we could roll this out, if we put our minds to it. Think of the publicity amateur radio could get..every time we 'presented' the receiver to the local chief or mayor.

3) Range is an issue: The chap in Florida is right...
A good station is better than a poor one, if you need help.
But if nobody's listening, it doesn't matter what you're using.

4) MY RECOMMENDATION: Contact ARRL. Start with
your local Section Manager,if he's handy. If not,
Send a note to K1ZZ@arrl.org. Dave will bless me for
that suggestion, I am sure. But he'll get the comments
where they belong.

Jim, N2EA
 
RE: Nat. EMERGENCY Frequency needed  
by KF4BOT on June 25, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I am all for 146.55 being designated as the official emergency frequency. It seems that most everyone who is a ham has 2 meters. Back in the seventies, during the height of the CB craze, channel 9 was monitored by the local police or volunteers that coordinated with the local police to have the frequency covered 24/7/365. There is no reason why this can't continue with CB channel 9, as well as having an emergency 2m frequency monitored 24/7/365 by either the police or volunteers. There have been times when I did long distance driving in the middle of the night on roads with very little or no traffic, and found absolutely no activity on 2m, 70cm or CB. Whether or not there were any stations monitoring, I don't know. One other suggestion for an emergency frequency is to have the person monitoring key the mic and and say so every 10 minutes - "This is station XXXXX listening", or something like that. I don't have a cell phone. I depend on my radios in case of an emergency. It would be comforting to know that there's always someone on the radio to take an emergency call, wherever I might be on the road.
 
I agree  
by KC2GFG on June 29, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Just like to add my two cents, sounds like a great idea. Finally something the ARS is known for in part gets something useful.
 
RE: EMERGENCY 2-M FREQ.  
by WA1ZYX on June 30, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Okay, so now we have two meter receivers hooked up to everybodies repeaters. Who's listening to the repeaters? Sounds like the same problem you're trying to address.....
 
Synopsis of Nat. EMERGENCY Freq. Needed  
by N6JSX on July 1, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Interesting responses and comments. And as I anticipated the message/focus of the article would be LOST due to the bickering of WHAT frequency should be used.

Lets look at a few items of interest: CB channel 9 is monitored in some areas by local Law Enforcement due to it being a FCC declared EMERGENCY communications ONLY channel. The Coast Gaurd religiously monitors marine channel 16 for EMERGENCY calls and allows quick ship-to-ship calling to move OFF to another channel. You try to rag shew on chn 16 more than 3 minutes and the Coast Gaurd monitoring station will bounce you! All airports and Air Force monitor 121.5 (and I think 234.0) as it is the FCC declared aviation or ELT EMERGENCY frequency.

To those that say all of HAM Radio is an EMERGENCY frequecies - ya right - utopia is near. (Like to see what would happen if the FCC declared all HF an EMERGENCY only on ARRL FD weekend?) The FCC declares specific HF fequencies as EMERGENCY ONLY typically hours/days after a disaster or when they see a hurricane coming. This proposed 2m EMERGENCY frequency is for the "local" & "daily" emergencies that need immediate and direct attention.

146.520 has been adopted as the 2m simplex CALLING frequency and does NOT have the title of being a FCC declared EMERGENCY frequency. So it is highly unlikely that any Law Enforcement or local repeaters would monitor 146.520. My thoughts of using 146.550 is to leave the calling frequency just what it is. When when the FCC declares 146.545-555, i.e. 146.550, as an EMERGENCY ONLY frequency it would never be used or confused as a rag chew frequency.

When the FCC delcares ONLY EMERGENCY traffic on a specific 2m frequency you will most likely find local Law Enforcement putting this frequency into their scanners. The ONLY traffic coming across this frequency is suppose to be EMERGENCY related - minimizing false disruptions.

As far as seeking the ARRL for action - well I'm not a member so by default it is a dumb idea. I was the LA OOC and WI OOC and I saw how little the ARRL can do.

So lets not kill this effort due to "opionionated" freqeuncy haggling! First get the FCC to approve this type of special EMERGENCY frequency.

If this idea is unacceptable then I recommend that all HAMs arm themselves with a cell telephone as another blow to our Part 97.1 foundation has been struck.



 
RE: Synopsis of Nat. EMERGENCY Freq. Needed  
by WD4HVA on July 3, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
And the main problems haven't even been addressed by the originator:

1. If nobody's listening it doesn't matter what
frequency you designate.

2. Simplex has limited range so for most of the country
it doesn't matter what frequency you designate.

Just getting the FCC to declare a particular frequency an "EMERGENCY CHANNEL" doesn't do anything to solve the basic problem of nobody listening. The local ham club has been working on this issue for some time now, since we're in an area of fairly low population density, the terrain doesn't lend itself to easy simplex operation and most of us don't have towers or big two meter antenna systems. What has been done is really simple - use the old LITZ (Long Interval Tone Zero) system and just use the repeater. This means that people who want to just listen in case of an emergency can leave their rigs running, we have the potential of giving the dispatchers LITZ decoders if we want direct 911 or police monitoring, and if you're just standing by you don't have to listen to the repeater traffic. You have the real benefit of not having to depend on someone having a beam antenna pointed in your direction too - so you can make an emergency call from anywhere you can hit the repeater.

Using this type of approach you can solve the problem without having to add another set of rules and regulations or getting the FCC involved. Why try to reinvent a solution when a workable one already exists and can be delivered to the amateur community with just a little cooperation? I know, cooperation seems to be a forgotten concept, but there's always hope!
 
Nat. EMERGENCY Frequency needed  
by KA7EKW on January 27, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
The emergency frequency idea is a sound one, but we don't have the dedicate resources to put it in place on a simplex frequency.

It would be simpler to designate a specific repeater pair as a nationwide emergency services set through the coordinators.

Also, repeaters run by groups with an ES commitment could be listed with "/ES" on the back of the call, with a standard 1s delay between unkey and timer-reset chirp to let ES traffic break in.

Lastly, set aside the 100.0Hz subaud tone SOLELY for emergency use (again, done through coordination). With modern repeaters, this would be programmed in as a second tone, which, when heard, would be retransmitted to open squelches on radios of the monitoring group.

 
RE: Nat. EMERGENCY Frequency needed  
by W9WHE on February 13, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
If the repeaters are no good, why would simplex be better?


Try this:

1) Use your cellphone.

2) If the cellphone will not work and nobody is on any repeater, invoke 47 CFR 97.403 and 97.405 to operate on 155.475, the National Law Enforcement Emergency Frequency or any other police/fire/ems frequency you can use to summon help for "an immeadiate threat to life and/or property when other means are un available".

 
RE: Synopsis of Nat. EMERGENCY Freq. Needed  
by N6HBJ on February 21, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
The problem with a national emergency simplex freq. is that THERE AINT GONNA BE ANYONE LISTENING TO IT!!

It is much more likely that you will raise someone on 6.52 because it ALREADY IS A NATIONALY RECOGNIZED FREQUENCY and therefore more likely that someone will be listening there if there is to be ANY simplex ops in an that particular area.

73 Mike
 
RE: Suburban Protocol  
by KE4SKY on December 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Most current amateur rigs enable either a marked memory scan, priority scan or dual watch of two or more frequencies.

National Simplex is not required to be "guarded" or routinely monitored, as is Marine Channel 16 or 156.800, so there is little confidence that anyone will be there to hear your call if you cannot raise anyone on a repeater.

Using 146.55 as a secondary calling frequency is good operating practice to move off and keep the calling channel clear after you have made initial contact.

However, in most parts of the country the "Wilderness Protocol" is ineffective, because too few people listen to "52."

In our Virginia RACES Basic Operator training we teach what is called the "Suburban Protocol." Operators are requested to establish in priority or marked memory scan a group of freqs which include at minimum the National Simplex, PLUS their local ARES, RACES or Skywarn repeater(s). ARES / RACES / Skywarn primary repeaters should have generator or 48 hour battery backup and SAME encoding to enable rebroadcast of public safety EAS and NOAA weather alerts, as well as long tone zero LITZ alerts.

On our repeater controller we change the outbound PL on the machine from its normal 131.8 to 162.2 when there is an EAS or LITZ alert. This way you can use CTCSS decode to keep the HT quiet except when there is an emergency. Amateurs in the DC area also use the APRS 144.39 frequency in voice mode with a PL of 100.0 for local directions and for motorist assistance and chat. Any common simplex frequency used in your area should be added to the scan.
 
Nat. EMERGENCY Frequency needed  
by PAUL-NN7B on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The national calling frequency of 146.52 has been there for years. I'd much rather revive emphesizing it's use than to 're-invent the wheel' by trying to establish another frequency for the same purpose.

It doesn't mean that we need to NOT use 146.52 for things but, to make it known that it needs to be used when there are emergencies as well. Then, when we aren't hopping around the bands playing with our radios, maybe an HT sitting on the camp table or the car radio tuned to 146.52 when we're not playing radio would provide the opportunity to HEAR a call for help should that happen.

I think the biggest problem is that people just don't turn on their radio and let it sit on 146.52 while they are doing other things. "Monitoring" is just that. It sure worked great for many years on CB channel 9 and that is still used today. That doesn't mean sitting next to your radio listening for hours and hours for the squelch to break but, have it within hearing distance where you are so if a call does come through, it will have a better chance of being heard by someone.

As another note, if you are a hiker, consider taking an FRS radio in your backpack with you. As I understand it, many CAP search planes are now carrying FRS radios. You can communicate for many miles via FRS when one of the transmitters is in an airplane. If you can see the plane, you can talk to the pilot with an FRS radio as long as you are on their emergency channel-1. It will certainly enhance one's ability to seek and receive help when there is an emergency.

Just my $.02 :)
73, Paul - NN7B
Cold Springs, NV.
 
Nat. EMERGENCY Frequency needed  
by XE1UFO on July 19, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I think a VHF frequency idea is o.k. in areas where there is a fair quantity of hams. But consider HF as well.

Here in Mexico, our national emergency frequencies are on HF: 7.070 SSB Mhz daytime and 3.690 SSB night time. Every day of the year, rain or shine, we do practice checkins to the net and report temperature, barometric pressure, and WX conditions. When a real emergency appears, we all pretty well know each other (by voice, at least) and things run smoothly. There is always somebody listening, with a telephone nearby and a printed list of telephone numbers for the national highway police, Red Cross (our only ambulance system in most places), etc.

On several occasions I have had need to report emergencies on HF (auto accidents, injured people, etc.) Once I even relayed information that saved 16 Cuban refugees, caught in a severe storm in a small boat off the coast of Yucatan. It was amazing that my mobile (parked at my house) could work them just fine, and several bases on frequency with proper antennas couldn't even hear them. Later I went into my own shack and had no copy on them, though others on frequency were still sorking them. Strange propagation condx! The Mexican Marines rescued them. I was over 1,200 miles away from them. VHF would have been useless!
 
Nat. EMERGENCY Frequency needed  
by XE1UFO on July 19, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
By the way, this article should have been posted under the new Emergency/Public Service heading.
 
RE: Nat. EMERGENCY Frequency needed  
by W9WHE-II on November 23, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
National emergency frequencies:

1) OCEANIC MARINE: 2.182 MHZ
2) COSTAL MARINE: 156.8 MHZ
3) HAM: 146.52 MHZ (wilderness protocol)
4) AIR: 121.5 MHZ
5) POLICE: 155.475 MHZ (National Law Enforcement
Emergency Frequency)

JUST HOW MANY MORE DO YOU NEED?

W9WHE
 
RE: Nat. EMERGENCY Frequency needed  
by NL7W on November 27, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Not a bad idea... just make it 146.52 Simplex.
 
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