Announcement Date: July 21, 2014
At the ARRL’s Centennial Convention that immediately preceded the Meeting of the Board of Directors, numerous Section Managers from across the country expressed outrage to K4AC about statements made by ARRL staff at an ARRL Convention and in an article in QST. The statements were that amateur radio operators do not provide “emergency communications”. Instead of “emergency communications”, staff was setting forth that amateurs only provided “public service” communications. In part, the reasoning for the change in terminology was based upon an illogical belief that saying amateurs provide “emergency communications” would be seen as insulting to professionals such as law enforcement.
Being a retired law enforcement officer and having spent five years in charge of a state law enforcement agency’s communications system, including during the Hurricane Andrew disaster, K4AC knew firsthand there was no such perception against amateurs.
Only a majority vote of the 15 Directors can establish or change ARRL policy and no such vote had occurred. The Southeastern Division team (K4AC and AA6ML) conceptualized the below resolution and submitted it to the Board. The resolution was adopted.
WHEREAS, the FCC has historically recognized and emphasized the national value of Amateur Radio in Part 97 of the FCC rules, including §97.1.a “Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications”; and WHEREAS in recognition of Amateur Radio’s value to emergency communications, the FCC has allocated significant spectrum access to Amateur Radio; and
WHEREAS countless Amateur Radio operators volunteer tens of thousands of hours of service to local, state and national disaster situations and exercises each year – providing emergency and public service communications through the ARRL ARES® program as well as through partners including the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and countless CERT teams across the country; and
WHEREAS Craig Fugate – Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – has emphasized, most recently at the ARRL National Centennial Convention in his keynote speech, the importance of Amateur Radio to the national interest; and
WHEREAS, Amateur Radio emergency communications is vital in the national interest, as mentioned in Craig Fugate’s speech that “Radio is one of the most resilient communications technologies we have. When the power is out and telecommunications are down, the Amateur Radio community can serve as a vital resource in support of emergency responders and survivors during a disaster. This MOA will strengthen FEMA’s partnership with ARRL and build upon our work to expand emergency communications capabilities and the use of Amateur Radio in emergency management.”; and Minutes, ARRL Board of Directors Page 9 2014 Second Meeting, July 21-22
WHEREAS, the FCC has also recognized the value of the Amateur Radio Service, in public documents, including “Uses and Capabilities of Amateur Radio Service Communications in Emergencies and Disaster Relief” dated August 20, 2012 – wherein the FCC summarized the contribution of Amateur Radio by saying “… the emergency response and disaster communications communities all agree that amateur radio can be of great value in emergency response situations. Amateur radio carries with it a wide range of advantages that allow it to supplement other emergency communications activities during disasters. This has been demonstrated time and again in a wide variety of emergency and disaster situations. Amateur radio emergency communications require not only stations in a position to originate the emergency message, but also an alternative to the commercial communications infrastructure impacted by the emergency”;
NOW THEREFORE be it resolved that the ARRL Board of Directors, on behalf of the membership, reaffirms its commitment and desire to further improve and enhance Amateur Radio’s participation and standing in emergency communications for the benefit of the nation’s emergency response agencies and the American public.