"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 recognized 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 emergency communications in your neighborhood or community.

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 will be held in Lowville. Other class sessions are offered 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 is a 35 multiple choice question test focused on rules, regulations, and basic operational procedures.
Be prepared to help yourself, your family, and your community.
Please contact County Emergency Manager Robert Mackenzie 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 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.

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.

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, 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.

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.

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.

LCECG would like to help organize a family and community emergency communications plan using simple low cost FRS 2-way radios that do not require a license. This will only work if enough citizens become involved. See this page for more information.

If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact LCECG or the Lewis County Office of Emergency Management.


"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)

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, please contact the county, or any member of LCECG. The Black River Valley Amateur Radio Club web site brvarc.org has many links to general information about Amateur Radio.

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. LCECG is working on family and community communications plan using these types of radios.

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.

Aside from the emergency communications potential, an Amateur Radio license opens the doors lifetime hobby offering worldwide communications, technical learning and experimentation, and just plain fun. You don't have to be heavily involved in the technical aspects, but if you are a student interested in an engineering career, Amateur Radio can be a valuable learning resource and a plus on your resume.

If you are interested in regular participation in HF emergency communications over medium to long distances, consider joining the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS). MARS members are licensed Amateur Radio operators who provide supplemental communications to military and civilian agencies during emergencies. MARS training nets are held daily on frequencies outside the amateur bands.

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, and also a MARS member. The Northern New York Amateur Radio Association web site nnyara.net lists information for other counties.

For more general 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 some Public Service and
Emergency Communications Training Events:

Second Saturday in June - Black Fly Challenge Mountain Bike Race
Third weekend in June - Field Day (national event)
First Saturday in August - Riverfest
Third Friday in August- Woodsmen's 10K Run
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)
November - Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio exercise/contest (national)
January - Winter Field Day (US/Canada)
Quarterly - Northern NY Hospital Net
Weekly - NNY Weather net
Weekly - NY State RACES HF Net
Daily - Military Auxiliary Radio System HF Nets
Daily - Central NY Traffic (message handling) & Emergency Net

(see brvarc.org and nnyara.net event listings for dates and details)


Radiogram forms and supplemental info for members