More than just a Ham radio blog.
is an informative, cynical and sometimes humorous look at what is happening in the world of amateur radio.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Getting legless in the hills

VA3VQ has highlighted a story from the ARRL news pages. It involves a mountain walker who broke their ankle and a radio amateur (Rich Lippucci, KI6RRQ) who contacted another amateur (Kirk Gustafson, KE6MTF) via a local repeater who in turn contacted the rescue service, who used a helicopter to air lift her to safety.

For me it is a very familiar tale and one that has been repeated many times over the years. The majority of walkers these days are lead into a false sense of security with their mobile phones, but mobiles do not always work out in the hills and even when there is mobile coverage how many people do not think to have their phone fully charged before an expedition. The same is also true for amateur radio equipment with the added problem that no-one might be listening when you most need them. When anyone asks on a forum about "wide-banding" the internet police come out to play and the question is asked "why?". I have several reasons why; I have a Notice of Variation that allows me to use frequencies not normally covered by the amateur radio licence and my radios originally did not cover 7.100-7.200 mHz, but the main one is that in a real emergency I would use all means at my disposal to preserve life and to hell with the consequences.

Working with RAYNET I have seen the need to communicate with services outside the remit of our licence and seen the use sanctioned by the County Emergency Planning Officer, Chief of Police and even RAF Air Sea Rescue. I have been with emergency services where their equipment proved not to be up to the job while our little hand held rigs just kept on working. If an amateur feels the need to have their radio wide-banded he should be aware of the consequences of misuse and should at least be able to live with their conscience as to the reason why. For anyone who travels off the beaten track it is a no-brainer, I don't care if I talk to another amateur, a CBer, the local taxi firm or Mr Plod himself when it is a case of life or death you can slap my wrist or throw me in jail later.

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