"The President can make you a general, but only communications can make you a commander."
General Curtis LeMay

The Lewis County Emergency Communicators Group is the official volunteer emergency communications organization for Lewis County (New York). LCECG consists of federally-licensed volunteer amateur ("ham") radio operators who engage in regular training and preparation to provide communications in emergency situations. Non-hams are also encouraged to participate in support roles such as computer operations or use of FRS or CB for short-range communications.

LCECG wants YOU!
The Lewis County Emergency Communicators Group, in conjunction with the Lewis County Office of Emergency Management, is looking for people who want to become involved in emergency communications. No prior experience
or knowledge is required. If there is sufficient interest, a license class may be held in Lowville. Other class sessions are held nearby on a regular basis.
You do not need to know Morse code to obtain a license. The entry-level Technician license test is not highly technical. It focuses on rules, regulations, and basic operational procedures.
Be prepared to help youself, your family, and your community.
Please contact County Emergency Manager Jim Martin or
LCECG coordinator Pete Newell for more information.


It is significant that the Federal Communications Commission's Rules and Regulations governing Amateur Radio (Part 97) state, as the first principle under "Basis and Purpose," the following: "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."

Amateur Radio Service information from the Federal Communications Commission

Amateur Radio Emergency Communications information from the American Radio Relay League

Can you communicate in an emergency without relying on any commercial infrastructure? Cell phones don't work everywhere, and both cell and wired phone systems may not work in even a minor disaster or emergency situation. Be prepared to help yourself, your family, and your community.

LCECG has an internal training program and also participates in multi-agency drills. In addition, LCECG provides communications assistance during large public events. Such operation is termed 'public service communications' and is also considered training for actual emergencies. For a listing of training and other activities, please see the Black River Valley Amateur Radio Club web site.

LCECG is designated by the Lewis County Director of Emergency Management as the official RACES organization for the county, and by the ARRL as the ARES organization for the county.

RACES is the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. RACES is specifically established by the Federal Government under FCC regulations Part 97, Subpart E, Section 97.407. Operation under RACES takes place only in certain situations when there is a declared emergency and when activated by the county Director of Emergency Management.

ARES- the Amateur Radio Emergency Service - is organized and administered by the ARRL (American Radio Relay League). ARES is a nationally recognized volunteer emergency communications organization, but functions primarily on the local level.. On June 21, 2003, Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, announced the official affiliation between the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and Citizen Corps. ARRL is also a member of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD).

SKYWARN is a program of the National Weather Service. The most important tool for observing thunderstorms is the trained eye of the storm spotter. By providing observations, SKYWARN storm spotters assist the National Weather Service in their warning decisions and enable the National Weather Service to fulfill its mission of protecting life and property. You do not have to be a ham radio operator to be a SKYWARN spotter, but you do have to be trained by the National Weather Service. LCECG periodically schedules SKYWARN storm spotter training classes.

"When All Else Fails - Amateur Radio" is not just a slogan.

    Many times, when commercial and government systems fail or are
    overloaded, amateur radio can still get critical messages through.

    For example...

.. From section of Mitigation Assessment Team Report, Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast, FEMA 549 / July 2006:

"The EOC [Emergency Operations Center] lost normal communications during the storm. However, ham radio operators were in the EOC during the storm and their communications equipment remained operational." ..."Three prudent practices were observed at this building:"[including]"pre-positioning the ham radio operators and their equipment so that a backup was readily available when the primary communications failed."

...From FEMA report Extraordinary Measures By Ordinary People In The Face Of A Disaster, January 26, 2001, Release Number: 1354-37

"When all the phone service, cell phone and radio networks were not working, amateur radio operators came to the rescue providing emergency communications," said Jerry Roberts, county coordinator for Sebastian County. "They assisted in restoring communication to the county sheriff and the emergency medical services. Radio-operators even rode with sheriff's deputies to provide radio communications."

"All communications in Garland County, including the eight radio stations, were out of commission as a result of the ice storm. "Had it not been for the amateur radio clubs and the ham radio operators, I don't know how we could have done it," said Joy Sanders, emergency management coordinator for Garland County. "They supplied us with the equipment and operators that allowed us to keep communications open and to shuttle messages to Little River, Hot Spring and Montgomery counties."

...FEMA Publication SLG 101: Guide for All-Hazard Emergency Operations Planning, Attachment B Communications, page 5-B-1 lists amateur radio as a resource:

"The spontaneous voluntary support of ham radio operators, radio clubs, and private organizations with sophisticated communications equipment."

Here are some news articles about ham radio and emergency communications:

Radio operators prep for blizzard of the century
Communication key when weather strikes
Ham Radio Operators Still Active From Irene (Sept. 2011) Emergency communications before, during and after hurricane.
Ham radio more than hobby

McDowell uses amateur radio to answer call for help
'Hams' Honored for Heroics in Emergencies
Ham Radio Volunteers provide support during Martin Fire
Ham radios bring people from different countries, class and creed together
Ham operators provide communication

Hurricane Katrina Articles:
Amateur Radio Earning Praise, Respect in Hurricane Katrina Relief (ARRL. Sept. 16, 2005)
Ham radio operators to the rescue after Katrina (MSNBC. Sept. 6, 2005)
Ham radio operators tune in hurricane help (Christian Science Monitor. Sept. 15, 2005)
Ham radio operator heads south to aid post-Katrina communications (Computerworld. Sept. 7, 2005)
Ham radio volunteers help re-establish communications after Katrina (Computerworld, Sept. 6, 2005)
As Telecom Reels From Storm Damage, Ham Radios Hum (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 6, 2005)
Ham Radio Operators Relay Messages, Help Save Lives After Hurricane Katrina (About.com. Sept. 4, 2005)
In Katrina's Wake, Ham Radio Triumphs (Electronic Design. Sept. 19, 2005)
Ham Radio Operators Rise to Occasion of Another Disaster (Newhouse News Service. Sept. 1, 2005)
Ham radio serves in Katrina's path (Test and Measurement. Sept. 7, 2005)
Ham radio aids recovery effort (Columbia Missourian. Sept. 5, 2005)
Ham Radio's Helping Hand (DefenseTech. Sept. 7, 2005)
Ham radio operators reach out and help hurricane survivors (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Aug. 31, 2005)
Toledo-Area Amateur Radio Operators Help Hurricane Victims (WTOL Sept. 15, 2005)
Volunteer Ham Radio Operators to Receive Grant To Enhance Emergency Communications in Hurricane Region (VolunteerToday.com)
Ham radio operators help direct remote rescue (WVLT Knoxville TN, Oct. 2005)
Ham radio to tap in if earthquake strikes (The Albuquerque Tribune Sept. 20, 2005)
President Bush Sends Greetings to Field Day Participants (ARRL Letter. June 24, 2005)
Ham Radio Operators Become Asset to Homeland Security (Newhouse News Service)
Have a Field Day: Why you should try ham radio (ZDNet)
Amateur Radio Operators Shine in Crises (MRT)
Also see:
Emergency Communications overview from the ARRL

The Lewis County Department of Emergency Management is looking for more trained and qualified emergency communicators, and encourages all citizens to become licensed ham radio operators..

If you are interested in joining the group, or in getting your amateur radio license, please contact anyone from the Black River Valley Amateur Radio Club or attend a meeting for more information.

Individuals without a license can still participate in support roles and may be able to use other communication methods such as FRS or CB, where applicable. If you've used FRS or CB, you know how handy radio communications can be, but also know the limitations of these services. Amateur Radio breaks through these limitations to provide reliable communications over virtually any distance.

If you are interested in regular participation in HF emcom over medium to long distances, consider joining the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS)

Pete Newell KC2WI is the Emergency Communications Group coordinator, as well as the RACES Radio Officer (RO) and ARES Emergency Coordinator (EC) for Lewis County.

For more information about ham radio, see the Black River Valley Amateur Radio Club web site or contact Pete Newell KC2WI @ 376-8879 or by email..

General schedule of local Public Service and
Emergency Communications Training Events:

Third weekend in June - Field Day (national event)
First Saturday in August - Riverfest
Third Friday in August- Woodsmen's 10K Run
Late September - Black River Stages
Beginning of October - Simulated Emergency Test (national event)
October - Boonville Elks Walkathon
October - Town and Country 10K Run
Third weekend in October - Scouting Jamboree On The Air (worldwide)
January - Winter Field Day
Quarterly - Northern NY Hospital Net
Weekly - NY State RACES HF Net
Daily - Military Auxialary Radio System HF Nets
Daily - Central NY Traffic (message handling) & Emergency Net

(see www.brvarc.org event listing for dates and details)

Members - please review the club web site for a complete list of training and other events.

Radiogram forms and supplemental info for members

Last update March 28, 2012.
(note: some news article links may be obsolete)