Amateurs Celebrate 75th Anniversary of Emergency Service (9/9/10)
Thursday, September 09, 2010 | Comments

The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is celebrating its 75th anniversary. The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) program provides the ham radio emergency communications for agencies such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, state and local emergency operations centers, National Weather Service and other organizations.

Each year specially trained radio communications volunteers give thousands of free hours of community service in the worst of times. "The fastest way to turn an emergency into a total disaster is to lose communications,” said Allen Pitts of the ARRL. “In events from ice storms in New England to Hurricane Katrina and Haiti, when normal communications systems were down or overloaded, the amateur radio operators of the ARES programs filled requests for emergency help."

During the past 75 years the equipment has changed with technology, but the group’s mission has remained the same. The communications networks that ARES quickly creates — without the need for other infrastructure — remain critical in emergency planning. In the first hours of a major event, Amateur Radio is often the primary source of information on the situation and reactions needed to save lives.

There are now more than 690,000 FCC-licensed U.S. amateur radio operators. Amateurs are expanding their voice and digital networks, using satellites and TV, developing hybrid applications of radio Internet and GPS location systems, long-range Wi-Fi types of systems and more.

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