2017 Emergency Communication Survey Results

Earlier this year a survey was conducted to ascertain how viable emergency communications remain within the amateur radio community.

Survey background:

  • Over 100 licensed amateur radio operators responded to this survey
  • Survey was posted on the following Facebook Groups
    • Northern Illinois Amateur Radio
    • Central Illinois Amateur Radio
    • Southern Illinois Amateur Radio

An attempt was made to post the survey on the ARRL Illinois Section Facebook page was deemed by the Administrators that since this survey was not an official ARRL survey, it did not fall within their posting guidelines and therefore the post was denied.

Survey Findings:

  • The majority of the respondents were either current members of an organized emergency communication group or had been a member of a group in the past.
  • Those that were no longer a member of an organized emergency communication group stated the reason for leaving the group was due mostly to a lack of organization and proper leadership.
  • Many current members of an organized emergency communications group also expressed a lack of organization and leadership as a concern
  • 86% of the respondents stated in one form or another that leadership selection was not based on qualifications or certifications but rather on personal relationships.
  • 79% expressed that many emergency communication volunteers lack the proper training or refuse to participate in any form of formal emergency communication training.
  • 92% expressed that the current emergency communication methodology is antiquated and obsolete and the amateur radio community has failed to properly adjust to the changes in emergency disaster response.
    • 2% did say that the amateur radio community is “trying” but lack a clear “mission”
  • 12% feel that the emergency communication part of amateur radio is full of “wanna-Be’s” that create a poor reflection on the amateur radio community.

The biggest take-away from all respondents is:

If a disaster or other need presented itself, all would be willing to assist in emergency communications.


Some comments from the Survey:

  • “There are Amateur Radio Operators who are willing to help when needed.”
  • “Lack of organization in regards to EmComm. Lack of training standards. Many EmComm leaders are appointed because of who they know and not because of any real qualifications.”
  • “It’s a great thing to be able to provide life saving communications during a disaster when other means of communications will be over loaded or down.”
  • “We need to “pay the rent” on our spectrum by serving the communities in which we live.”
  • “We need to persevere despite the de-emphasis of EmComm by our National Organization.”
  • “We need to cultivate and maintain good relations with Served Agencies, giving assistance in the fashion that they want rather than giving what we think that they should have.”
  • “I’ve tried in the past to make contact to get necessary training/participate in ARES. Recieved minimal response, if it all. Not related to this site in any way that I’m aware of. Having a TECH license, minimal experience & equiptment.. not really even sure there is a role I could fill. But possibly at some point that will change.”
  • “Under utilized in our area due to lack of involvement by ham community.”
  • “I would like to sit down with anyone from our State Ares group and talk about support for the Southern part of Illinois.”
  • “Ready to participate. Ready to go where needed.  “
  • “Far more people are willing to help than are willing to periodically train and keep their equipment operational. It is good to have bodies available when needed but if their skills are not current they can be as much of a liability as a help in some cases.”
  • “There are a number of amateurs who discourage (or even ignore) all but a few who wish to participate in training or actual emergency communications.”
  • “The ability of the hams in this area to be “organized” and to follow ICS protocol is lacking it is also a detriment that the public service sector will not admit that they (due to small sizes and lack of understanding of our capabilities) can use our assistance. Again I stress that the inability of “our own” to take any form of training and protocol seriously is not helping our case any.”
  • “Many of the EmComm Leadership lack proper qualifications. While minor strides are being made, they (the leadership) inflate the progress. No tangible results at the local levels.”
  • “Emcomm leadership do not want to know what is actually happening at the local levels. They act as if they ignore the problem then it either does not exists or it will simply go away”.

The comments above are just a few of the responses, in general the remainder of the survey comments reflect the same sentiment.