"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 currently inactive due to lack of volunteers. Some information on this page may be out of date.

If you are interested in serving as ARES Emergency Coordinator for Lewis County, or just participating in the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, please contact Northern New York Section Amateur Radio Emergency Service Coordinator Peter Newell KC2WI.

For more information on the Amateur Radio Emergency Service in Northern New York, as well as general Amateur Radio activities, clubs, and repeater listings, please see the Northern New York Section website.

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

"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

Could you call for help (or even just let family know that you were OK) in an emergency without relying on telephones, cell phones, or Internet? 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.

If you have an interest in emergency radio communications and are not a licensed operator, you can organize and participate using unlicensed radio services such as CB, FRS, or MURS to provide short-range emergency communications in your neighborhood or community While unlicensed radio services may be useful, their range and flexibility are limited.

If you really want to have powerful flexible radio communications, getting your Amateur Radio license is the only way to go.

Nationally, there are three main Amateur Radio based service groups: ARES, RACES, and SKYWARN.

ARES is the Amateur Radio Emergency Service organized and administered by the ARRL (American Radio Relay League). ARES is a nationally recognized volunteer emergency and public service communications organization, but most action takes place on a 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).

Amateur Radio operators are designated as Auxiliary Communicators in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS). In ICS, the Communications Unit is under the Logistics Section. The FEMA Office of Emergency Communications ICTAP offers AUXCOMM training on line and in a 2 day classroom workshop format.

RACES is the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, established by the Federal Government under FCC regulations Part 97, Subpart E, Section 97.407 as "A radio service using amateur stations for civil defense communications during periods of local, regional or national civil emergencies.” RACES is available to handle official government emergency communications. RACES operators register with and are approved by the county Director of Emergency Management.

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:
Ever ready: Local ham radio operators provide vital link (Mountain News Ashville NC June 2015)
Ham Radio Continues to Provide Reliable Post-Quake Communication In Nepal (ARRL May 2015)
Nepal earthquake: Ham radios help families reunite (Times of India May 2015)
After Nepal earthquake, people turn to ham radio (arstechnica May 2015)
Ham Radio: The Unseen Eyes and Ears of Emergency Services (Stevenville Empire-Tribune May 2015)
Locals Provide Assistance To Earthquake Victims (KMVT TV April 2015)
When weather is threatening, radio operators are talking (Grand Island Independent April 2015)
SKYWARN WARRIORS... (Fitchburg MA Sentinal&Enterprise July 2014)
Ham radio users could be vital resource in emergency... (Bradford Era July 2014).
Ham radio operators help rescue injured hiker (ABC News Denver July 2014)
Ham Radio Operators Still Active From Irene (Sept. 2011) Emergency communications before, during and after hurricane.
Ham radio more than hobby (Columbia County News Times June 2008)
'Hams' Honored for Heroics in Emergencies (Medford Oregon Mail Tribune June 2008)
Ham Radio Volunteers provide support during Martin Fire (San Jose Mercury News)
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)
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)
Toledo-Area Amateur Radio Operators Help Hurricane Victims (WTOL Sept. 15, 2005)
Amateur Radio Operators Shine in Crises (MRT)

Radiogram forms and supplemental info for members

Black River Valley Amateur Radio Club
Northern New York Amateur Radio Association
ARRL Northern New York Section