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Can GMRS Be Used in Disaster Response Service?


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#1 edgeready

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Posted 04 January 2021 - 01:51 PM

Hello Gents,

 

I'm curious to know if GMRS can be used to coordinate disaster response activities?  I'm thinking of a hurricane strike zone or something similar.  The FCC stipulates licenses assigned to individuals which can also be used for commercial purposes, but only by licensed individuals or their direct family.  So I'm confused as to whether or not GMRS could be called into service to coordinate disaster response activities temporarily in various areas that may be stricken.

 

Edge



#2 BoxCar

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Posted 04 January 2021 - 02:27 PM

In the event of a disaster the FCC won't be actively searching for individuals using radios improperly except those in the public safety bands or federal/military channels. That "grace period" will be short, probably less than 72 hours before they would begin active enforcement. GMRS, MURS and CB radios are too plentiful for much active enforcement unless the user was actively interfering with disaster response units.


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#3 SteveC7010

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Posted 04 January 2021 - 02:29 PM

Only for licensees. The rules don’t change because of a major incident

GMRS/FRS is already commonly used by CERT and other local response teams. My own community has GMRS in its plan.
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#4 GuySagi

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Posted 04 January 2021 - 02:50 PM

I posted this article before on this forum (apologies), but it does a nice job answering your question with a system up and running in California.

Disaster: Radio to the rescue (mtdemocrat.com)



#5 jc1240

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Posted 04 January 2021 - 03:45 PM

Josh Nass who runs the Ham Radio Crash Course youtube channel touches on this in a 3-part series about emergency communications (EMCOMM).  FRS/GMRS are ok at the neighborhood level, but not much beyond that.  

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPLLMu4uyok

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCeO6iIkxLQ

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbpk48vDre8



#6 berkinet

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Posted 04 January 2021 - 04:59 PM

Practice what you will use. Use what you practiced.

 

Even if people would be allowed to use the radio in an emergency, they will not have had any practice.

GMRS is fine for the technology (in spite of what some hams will tell you). You just have to manage the licensing. And, now that it is $3.50 a year....


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#7 mbrun

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Posted 04 January 2021 - 07:04 PM

Without a doubt, GMRS and FRS radios could and would be used in an emergency. As has already been stated, many CERT organizations use them. More importantly, they will be most useful to you and your family if you and your family know how to use them, know how you will use them, and you are prepared to use them on zero notice (which means having them with you and having ample power source (aka batteries) available. Knowing how to use them goes beyond powering up and setting channel.

GMRS and FRS provide for good short-distance comms. GMRS may give you greater effective range in an emergency, but only if the local repeaters you are accustomed to use remain in service. The more local repeaters you know about and have programmed into your radio the more longer range options might be available to you. This is also true of amateur radio comms. The distinct advance amateur radio has over GMRS and FRS is the wide variety of equipment types and frequency bands available to them. Many amateurs practice on the radio weekly, and many daily. I fall into that later. Preparing means know what you options are and how to take advantage of them.

Although it is a bit late, there have been a couple of recent YouTube videos published regarding how GMRS is now being deployed and used in places like California in the wake of the Paradise fire. But remember, prepping is always to late after the emergency situation has arrived.

Hello Gents,

I'm curious to know if GMRS can be used to coordinate disaster response activities? I'm thinking of a hurricane strike zone or something similar. The FCC stipulates licenses assigned to individuals which can also be used for commercial purposes, but only by licensed individuals or their direct family. So I'm confused as to whether or not GMRS could be called into service to coordinate disaster response activities temporarily in various areas that may be stricken.

Edge



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#8 edgeready

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Posted 04 January 2021 - 08:30 PM

Great feedback, thanks.

 

We participate in disaster response work and could make great use of a temporary repeater system, but many users would be temporarily using the system.  Typically the workers (users) are not consistent from event to event.  The cost of licensing would not be an issue, but the logistics of implementing licensing in that mode would be very problematic, especially if it must be done "on the fly".  In such a case, a more expensive license paid for by the coordinating organization would seem more suitable, however this is no longer available from what I've read.

 

Because events can occur most anywhere, even straight up licensed repeater frequencies are problematic because you would never know where you're going to be deployed.  Additionally, recover activities can range from 1 week to 12 weeks of deployment depending on the scope and severity of the disaster event.



#9 edgeready

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Posted 04 January 2021 - 08:39 PM

I posted this article before on this forum (apologies), but it does a nice job answering your question with a system up and running in California.

Disaster: Radio to the rescue (mtdemocrat.com)

 

Great stuff.  We are working on something similar for our community and this resource will be very helpful.  Thanks.



#10 kb2ztx

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Posted 05 January 2021 - 06:16 AM

Great feedback, thanks.

 

We participate in disaster response work and could make great use of a temporary repeater system, but many users would be temporarily using the system.  Typically the workers (users) are not consistent from event to event.  The cost of licensing would not be an issue, but the logistics of implementing licensing in that mode would be very problematic, especially if it must be done "on the fly".  In such a case, a more expensive license paid for by the coordinating organization would seem more suitable, however this is no longer available from what I've read.

 

Because events can occur most anywhere, even straight up licensed repeater frequencies are problematic because you would never know where you're going to be deployed.  Additionally, recover activities can range from 1 week to 12 weeks of deployment depending on the scope and severity of the disaster event.

You really need to pursue a part 90 FCC license in the LMR band if this is your plan. There are itinerant based frequencies that can be licensed nationwide. There is a chance someone else may be using a channel but there is also a chance a GMRS user is also using a channel. Unless yours going to get licenses for all users on GMRS thats your only route.



#11 Michael A Martin

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Posted 05 January 2021 - 01:29 PM

Hope this answers your question...

95.1731 Permissible GMRS uses.
The operator of a GMRS station may use that station for two-way plain language voice communications with other GMRS stations and with FRS units concerning personal or business activities.

(a) Emergency communications. Any GMRS channel may be used for emergency communications or for traveler assistance. Operators of GMRS stations must, at all times and on all channels, give priority to emergency communications.

(b ) One-way communications. The operator of a GMRS station may use that station to transmit one-way communications:

(1) To call for help or transmit other emergency communications;

(2) To provide warnings of hazardous road conditions to travelers; or,

(3) To make brief test transmissions.

© Travelers assistance. The operator of a GMRS station may transmit communications necessary to assist a traveler to reach a destination or to receive necessary services.

(d) Digital data. GMRS hand-held portable units may transmit digital data containing location information, or requesting location information from one or more other GMRS or FRS units, or containing a brief text message to another specific GMRS or FRS unit.

#12 n4gix

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Posted 13 January 2021 - 08:17 PM

Here in Northwest Indiana (District 1) we are re-energizing ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) but our plans are to include FRS and GMRS into the organization.

 

We are modeling ourselves very closely to what has been done in California, where one GMRS/ham station will coordinate with FRS users at the lowest level, then if needed can move the traffic upstream to the ARES ham net control.

 

They in turn will route the traffic upstream to the District 1 ICS (Incident Command), Red Cross, Salvation Army, et cetera. 

 

See: https://www.aresd1.com/ for further details on our plans.






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