Ham Radio Common Emergency Frequencies…
On a local basis, many frequencies are assigned above 30 megahertz. Some frequencies have been allocated nationally, particularly those used for emergency or inter-agency communications. Here is a list of more widely used and active national frequencies.
34.90: This channel is used during emergencies nationwide by the National Guard.
39.46: Used by local and state police forces for inter-department emergency communications.
47.42: This is a channel used by the Red Cross for relief operations across the United States.
52.525: It is a calling frequency used by ham radio operators on their 6-meter band in FM. This frequency is filled with signals from hundreds or even thousands of miles away, during exceptional propagation.
121.50: It is the international aeronautical emergency frequency.
138.225: It is the prime disaster relief operations channel used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; it is active during hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and other catastrophic events.
146.52: The frequency is used for non-repeater communications on the 2-meter band by ham radio operators.
151.625: The channel is used by “itinerant” businesses or those that travel about the country. Exhibitions, trade shows, circuses, and sports teams are some of the users you can hear. Other widely used channels are 154.57 and 154.60.
154.28: Used by local fire departments for inter-department emergency communications;154.265 and 154.295 also used.
155.160: Used by local and state agencies for inter-department emergency communications during search and rescue operations.
155.475: Used by local and state police forces for inter-department emergency communications.
156.75: This channel is used for broadcasts of maritime weather alerts internationally
156.80: This is the international maritime distress, calling, and safety channel. All ships should monitor this frequency while at sea. It is also heavily used on rivers, lakes, etc.
162.40: This channel is used for NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.
162.425: This channel is used for NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.
162.45: This channel is used for NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.
162.475: This channel is used for NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.
162.50: This channel is used for NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.
162.525: This channel is used for NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.
162.55: This channel is used for NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.
163.275: This channel is used for NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.
163.4875: This channel is used nationwide during emergencies by the National Guard.
163.5125: This is the national disaster preparedness frequency used jointly by the armed forces.
164.50: This is the national communications channel for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
168.55: This is the national channel used for communications during emergencies and disasters by civilian agencies of the federal government.
243.00: This channel is used during military aviation emergencies.
259.70: This channel is used during re-entry and landing by the Space Shuttle.
296.80: This channel is used during re-entry and landing by the Space Shuttle.
311.00: This is an active in-flight channel used by the U.S. Air Force.
317.80: This is an active channel used by U.S. Coast Guard aviation.
317.70: This is an active channel used by U.S. Coast Guard aviation.
319.40: This is an active in-flight channel used by the U.S. Air Force.
340.20: This is an active channel used by U.S. Navy aviators.
409.20: This is the national communications channel for the Interstate Commerce Commission.
409.625: This is the national communications channel for the Department of State.
462.675: This channel is used for emergency communications and traveler assistance in the General Mobile Radio Service
Operating Your Ham Radio In An Emergency
Hoping that it never happens, but what if worse comes to worst? All emergencies are different so a step-by-step process is not going to be useful. Some solid principles are to be followed instead, based on the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) field resources manual.
When disaster strikes the following things must be done –
Check that you, your family, and property are safe and secure before you respond as an emergency communicator volunteer.
Monitor your primary emergency frequencies.
Follow the instructions you get from the net control or other emergency officials on the frequency. Check-in if and when check-ins are requested.
Contact your local emergency Communications leader or designee for more instructions further.
Reporting An Accident Or Other Incident
Reporting an accident is more common than you may think. Anybody who spends time driving may attest to the frequency of accidents. Ham radio can be used to report accidents, stalled cars, and fires. Do not think that people with cell phones are doing it. Know to report an incident quickly and clearly.
When you have an emergency situation to report then you should follow the steps below if your radio has an autopatch –
- Turn off the radio’s power to the limit and say clearly, “Break or Break emergency” at the first opportunity. If one station is weak, a stronger signal might get the attention of listening stations. Don’t feel shy to interrupt an ongoing conversation.
- After you have control of the repeater or the frequency is clear, say that you have an emergency to report.
- Clearly state that you are making an emergency autopatch and then activate the autopatch system.
- Dial 911 and when the operator responds, tell your name and also that you are reporting and emergency through amateur radio.
- From there follow the directions of the operator, if the operator asks you to stay on the line, do so and ask the other repeater users to please stand by.
- When the operator finishes, release the autopatch and also announce that you have released the autopatch. Whether you use a repeaters auto patch feature or relay the report by other repeater users, you have to be able to generate concise, clear information.
For fires and other hazards, the dispatcher wants to know where it is and how serious it appears. Don’t make a guess if you don’t know for sure. Report what you know, but don’t embellish the facts.
Making And Responding To Distress Calls
Before an emergency occurs, you should know how to make a distress call on a frequency where hams are likely to be listening, like a Marine Service net or a wide coverage repeater frequency.
Store at least one of these frequencies in your radio’s memories. Anyone licensed or not may use your radio equipment in an emergency to call for help on any frequency. You will not have time to be looking at the next directories in an emergency. Following things must be done when you make a distress call.
If you need emergency assistance immediately, the appropriate voice signal is MAYDAY and the morse code signal is SOS.
Maydays sound something like mayday, mayday, mayday, this is followed by :
Your location or address of the emergency.
The nature of the emergency.
What type of assistance you need – like medical or transportation aid.
Repeat your distress signal and callsign for several minutes or until you get a reply.
Even if you don’t hear a reply, others may hear you.
Try different frequencies if you do not get a reply if you think to change frequencies, announce to what frequency you are moving so that the person hearing you can follow. Like CB radio frequencies on a ham radio.
If you hear a distress signal on the air:
1. Immediately get something to record information, note time, and frequency of the call. To help the authorities provide assistance as quickly as possible, note the following information:
The location/address of the emergency.
The nature of the problem.
What type of assistance is needed -like medical or transportation aid.
Any other information that is helpful.
2. Respond to the call.
Say ” ( the station’s call), this is (your call ), I hear your distress call, What’s the situation?”
Using morse code, you send (station’s callsign) DE( your call) RRR WAT UR INFO? Let the station in distress make out who you are and that you can hear them.
3. After getting the information, ask the station in distress to stay on Frequency.
4. Call the public agency or public emergency number, such as 911.
Follow the dispatches instructions to the letter. The dispatcher might ask you to act as a relay to the station in distress.
5. As soon as possible, report back to the station in distress
Tell them who you contacted and the information you were asked to relay
6. Stay on Frequency as long as the station in distress or the authorities require your assistance.
Supporting Emergency Communications Outside Your Area
What do you do in case of a disaster or emergency situation outside your immediate vicinity? How can you get assistance? The best thing to do is to make yourself available to the onsite Communications workers, but only if called upon.
Because most of the information from a disaster flows out, not in, you will not want to get in the way. If a hurricane is bearing down on Miami, getting on and calling,” CQ MIAMI” is foolish.
The chance you have to actually render assistance is minimum and you get a chance of diverting some actual emergency need from the proper authorities. Instead, support the communication networks that Miami hams depend on.
Check your NTS local nets to see if any messages need to be relayed to your location. Check the Hurricane watch net on 14.325 megahertz and any Florida emergency net frequencies. Tune to the bands that support propagation to Florida, in case someone needs help.