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When it all goes down





Imagine your at work and it is near the end of your shift, over the radio and buildings loudspeaker you hear the following message......

"All second shift standby for an emergency announcement" 

A few seconds go by and another announcement's made. 

"due to civil disrest we are asking all second shift employees to stand by with third shift until further notice at which time we will provide further information" 

Now you know that there had been some peaceful vigils and protests going on in the downtown area, but nothing to crazy, however once you flip on the news channel you find out that a few bad eggs decide to start a riot to the south of downtown. So you call your family and tell them to lock the doors and stay in the house. You know your wife or Fiancé's kids are at a restaurant nearby and you call her and say " Babe get a hold to the kids and tell them to get out of the area".

She responds why? As she has been asleep and didn't know what is going on. 

You respond they are rioting to the south and I know- CLICK all of a sudden your phone shuts off. 

You desperately try to call her back but you get the message " All circuit's are busy try your call again later"  

A few minutes later during a press conference you find out that the city had shut down cell phone service for 8 miles around downtown to help quell the riot's. You and your family live within the 8 mile range. You worry that your message didn't get through and you fear the worst as you watch the live news  reports from your desk computer. 

What do you do next? 

Fortunately for you, you, your significant other and two of your kids are a ham radio operator. 

You go up to the roof of your building and call out on the local repeater that you guys chose to meet on should an emergency  happen. 

You call out "KX9XOX to K7XIX" you wait a few long minutes and then you hear.

" K7XIX to K9XOX" 

You respond: "did you get my message and are the kids ok?"

She replies: "yes and I was able to get ahold of our daughter and they left about 15 minutes before you called........" 

You reply: " Good, I am stuck at work keep the radio on this frequency and I will let you know when I am on the way" ~She replies OK. 

A few hours go by and things calm down you are released from your shift but you find out that cell phone service won't be back on till the AM. As you step outside of work and smell the scent of burning fires and tear gas you call out on the radio......

"K7XIX to K9XOX I am on my way home" to which she replies "Ok I will be up when you get home".

This actually happened in our home town (with the exception of the cell phones being turned off and using the radio). In a million years I never would have thought that it would happen here. Now before you go jumping on the bandwagon of they can't shut the cell phone off you need to know a few things. 

The first is yes they can shut down or limit it to only 911 calls. 

The second is they have done it before,

 On 8/11/2011 BART  in San Francisco shut down cell phones like that in the area of the stations as there was plans to disrupt the service. 

The final thing you need to know is you should  be prepared for the inevitable no matter how thin the chance of it actually happening is, and if you have family that live nearby and doesn't have, or want a radio license a GMRS repeater system might not be a bad idea. 

Now if you are a ham  hope this give you food for thought and if not maybe it will encourage you to get your license and develop a plan for you and your family. 

Until next time, stay blessed ~73 


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In this day and age, folks (especially the young folks) are very reliant on their cell phones.  If you try to explain to them that there may come a day when their cell phones won't work, I'm thinking they'll respond, "That's OK.  I'll still be able to text..."

In other words, I agree wholeheartedly with your blog entry.  Unfortunately, getting family members licensed is just the beginning of the challenge.  There often is a gulf between having a license and being able to operate a radio.  As you pointed out, GMRS is often an excellent alternative, but it still requires a modicum of skill which needs to be practiced.

73 de MaryAnn, NS7X
(By the way, keep writing.  You have a talent for it.  Just sayin'.)

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  • Ionosphere

With the current climate, this is kind of how I got into the ham radio hobby. 

Knowing that communications are extremely important, even to just listen, I thought I would look into getting my ham radio license.  I had a base CB with an antenna on a mast, but I was looking for alternative, more reliable ways to gather or relay information if necessary.  So, on my ham radio journey I went.  It's has turned out to be more than just communications for me though, it has been really fun so far.

The both of you pointed out that GMRS was another alternative.  My wife and I went this route as well.  I thought it might be a nice stepping stone for her to get into ham radio some day.  She enjoys talking on the radio, testing distances from mobile to mobile and base to mobile.  Using, and testing repeaters, is next on our list.

Thanks to the both of you for writing.

Always learning!


James K8JCL / WROD278


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i live alone, in the hills away from any city. but my mom (83), lives in a very bad city in ca (just 60 miles from me). no way can she handle any radio. heck she has trouble with a phone. so not sure what i can do radio wise. nor do i have any contacts close to her with a radio.

like so many of us out here.

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  • Elmer


Great example. It is not impossible to make a system that can receive text messages, or send a pre-programmed message. Some hams have set up inter-city digital networks just for circumstances where other communications have been hampered. In our area it is the Mid-Atlantic IP Network – MAIPN, Inc. (MAIPN). Digital networks like these can connect to devices that can provide text and voice communications, even video. One could send data through a repeater to a custom device that handles simple preprogrammed messages. Commercial HF radios can use ALE and 50 W to send and receive preprogrammed messaged. None of this is technically difficult. Perhaps the main problem is recognizing that older, non-technical adults, some with declining cognitive capacity, need simplified user interfaces. 


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