(I wanted to post to the Forum some bits of a thought-provoking and interesting email sent to us after a call from Donald Best, N6ALD, who is helping two American Legion posts in So. California get on the air with Amateur Radio. –Bill, NZ9S, TALARC club secretary.)
“Bill it was great talking to you. As a 54 year Red Cross volunteer, 50 years in disaster relief and 20 plus years in Red Cross Disaster Communications Service I was interested, this could be my "cup of tea".
As a Asst. District Emergency Coordinator in A.R.E.S., I am very familiar with the problem communicating with nongovernmental disaster relief locations after a major disaster. This is where the Legion can standout. The government has their act together with Amateur Radio with the R.A.C.E.S. program but the N.G.O.'s(non-government organizations) are left out in the cold. Up until about 4 years ago there was no A.R.E.S. in the A.R.R.L Los Angeles Section (LAX) North East District. A group of 5 amateur volunteers, including myself, in the LAX North East District got some additional amateur's involved and now we have about 30 active A.R.E.S. amateur's in our valley. The A.R.E.S. county wide just got finished installing Amateur Radio equipment at each of over 40 private non-government hospitals with emergency rooms in the county to advise them of hospital status, vacancies, supplies needs and manpower shortages.
This is only one example where the Legion Amateur Radio volunteers would be of tremendous value as amateur radio operators at the hospitals, the Medic Alert Cntrs or at the Legion post amateur radio station relaying these messages. The relay function is critical. Just about all disaster plans involving amateur radio as disaster service support. What a natural fit for the many American Legion posts and volunteers in the county.
Legion Family radio volunteers with portable radios can position themselves with hospitals, Salvation Army units, churches, public and private high schools, spontaneous dome tent shelter clusters in parks and open areas, religious or private/independent colleges and universities, and other places where people cluster during emergencies.
- hospitals with no emergency rooms that will have temporary tent type emergency centers set up on their property using the hospital's staff resources
- rest homes treating the public as first aid centers
- public first aid stations set up by organizations (like the legion) or community groups
- N.G.O. first aid teams
- N.G.O. mountain and urban search & rescue teams
- N.G.O. transportation resources such as private school busses, trucking companies & privately owned vehicles
- private (home owner association) Community Emergency Response Teams (C.E.R.T.)
As you can see there is a lot of work for amateur radio to do in case of an moderate or major disaster whether it is a natural disaster,as listed above, or a man made emergency such as terrorist incident, nuclear facility (either research or power generation)emergency, transportation accident, toxic spill, arson fire, major food shortage, major power disruption, water supply failure, pandemic or law enforcement activities.
Well that's enough for now, I will keep you informed on the two posts I am working with and additional posts as there they get involved. Remember we are still in the process of getting the post Executive board's approval so nothing is in concrete."
Donald Barton Best, N6ALD, American Legion Post 790 Volunteer