Emergency Readiness

DSC00801Radio Amateurs of Canada has a fairly sophisticated Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES).  This service is open to the participation of all amateurs.  It is a nation-wide service and is routinely called upon by emergency measures organizations for the handling of communications - whether it be the transmission of public welfare messages or an augmentation to the emergency measures organization itself. 

Although YARS is not actually part of ARES, it is affiliated with RAC and it has studied ARES.  At some point in the future YARS hopes to become more involved with the ARES organization. 

YARS is an integral part of Territorial emergency preparedness.  It is a recognized NGO stakeholder on the Territorial Emergency Response Committee.  YARS assists the GNWT with its emergency radiocommunications when called upon.  It is also possible that YARS and its members could be involved in emergency radio operations from distant locations, relaying message traffic.  Generally the type of radio traffic YARS relays is welfare traffic.

There are various reasons why the amateur radio service is attractive to emergency preparedness organizations: 

  • More frequencies.  The amateur radio service has substantially more frequencies on which to operate.  In fact while emergency services might have specific frequencies allocated to them, the amateur radio service has bands - tens of thousands of frequencies allocated - and these frequencies and bands are more useable at different times of the day or year. 
  • Infrastructure independent.  Radio amateurs' equipment is generally infrastructure independent.  We have our own power sources, solar panels, antennas etc.  If the phone lines or power lines are down (or the Internet), we are still capable of communicating with the world.  Since the equipment is our own, we are already trained on it and have experience using it.
  • Diversity.  Because our stations are spread out all over the place and not concentrated in one location, should an event occur that renders that one location no longer viable, it does not matter to us.
  • Training.  Radio amateurs are trained and experienced.  They have technical skills and savoir-faire in the operation of radio systems, building of antennas, circuit design and so forth.  The nature of the hobby requires intellectual discipline.  This makes us a unique asset.
  • Volunteers.  Radio amateurs are volunteers.  They are motivated.  They do this sort of activity because they want to do it.  "HAM" radio is non-commercial.  Radio amateurs have invested in their own training and equipment, at their own cost and without expectation of reward - a form of community service. 

Everthing that we do is oriented to that one day when we will receive and respond to a distress call.  Whether that call is from a powerboat or from an emergency measures organization, we strive to be ready.  Readiness is achieved and maintained through fox hunts and ARDF, contesting, learning how to solder, learning about low power (QRP) operations or simply maintaining logs for QSL cards. 

Northwest Territories Emergency Plan 2001 (GNWT)

Plausible Events

NVIS (Near Incident Vertical Skywave antenna) - this is a link to a very useful antenna for HF with a local range (2-300 km)