Recent events have reminded us of how fragile our communications infrastructure really is. While we have a very technologically advanced society, the complex nature of it causes it to be prone to catastrophic failure. In the event of a breakdown of our systems – whether it is localized or nationwide – an alternative solution needs to be made available.
During an extreme emergency, local communities will need to band together to serve their own needs as state or federal assistance may not be forthcoming. While this may have seemed apocalyptic in the past, it is something that should be considered even if this situation only occurs for a short period of time.
Preparation is the first step toward taking care of yourself. In response to this previously unthinkable occurrence, it has become clear that citizens need to be tied together for purposes of assistance, information distribution, and emergency service. Citizen Radio Network (CRN) is a proposal that addresses the needs of local groups of public service-oriented citizens.CRN is not an organization.
It is an initiative to bring about a standard method and means for communities to stay in touch with and protect its residents during times of extreme emergencies. CRN is not about replacing existing emergency services like REACT, ham radio or any public safety organization. It is about the ability of concerned citizens to help themselves if these groups are not available or do not serve the particular interests of that community.
CRN uses readily available (and widely available) radio equipment that does not require a license to operate it. Citizen’s Band (CB) radio and Family Radio Service (FRS) radios are the basis of the equipment involved. By using these two radio services, inexpensive equipment can be acquired without much effort. Both radio services are designed for personal communications and the radio equipment reflects this by being easy to use.
This combination allows a much larger and diverse group of individuals to become involved in a CRN operation than if ham radio or commercially licensed radio services were used. Millions of CB radios have been sold throughout the country. Both mobile and base stations are in extremely wide use. Nearly every trucker has one installed and is in use on a daily basis. This already is a large and established user base that can become a huge asset during a crisis. Simply adding additional stations in key locations can greatly benefit a community.
Many times local CB radio operators will have extra equipment that could be pressed into service for the benefit of the community. Placement of a transceiver at the church or community center will allow anyone in the community to participate. Since most communications will be local, homemade antennas could be used to customize the installation and keep costs down.
FRS radios can now be found in almost any department and sporting goods store. FRS radios are small and convenient. While their range is limited to less than 2 miles, most communities can be serviced well with these radios.CRN is attempting to create a standard that can be published and practice before a crisis occurs.
In this way, anyone interested in serving their community will know how and where to start. It is important to be proactive if you are to be an effective service. The following standard is a recommendation. It can be tailored to local conditions but should be adhered to as much as possible.
Emergency communications should be handled on channel 9 (27.065 MHz) since it is already designated as an emergency channel by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Traveler assistance is also allowed on this channel. Informational assistance should be located on channel 11 (27.085 MHz). Local bulletins, traffic diversions, shelter information, etc. should be broadcast here.
It can also serve as a calling frequency to contact other operators since it will be the channel most important information be transmitted and should be well monitored. Once contacted, parties should move to another channel so that it does not inhibit further use of this channel. Channel 13 (27.115 MHz) is designated as a secondary or overflow channel. If things get busy on channel 11, the movement of traffic to this channel is recommended. This channel can also be used for special operations.
Channel 1 (462.5625 MHz) with no privacy tone is designated as the emergency channel. There are already many efforts being made by others to make this a de-facto emergency channel. Channel 11 (467.6375 MHz) with privacy tone 01 (PL = 67Hz) should be designated as the information channel. Channel 14 (467.7125 MHz) with privacy tone 01 (PL = 67Hz) is designated as the overflow channel. It is important that some coordination of services occur.
CRN participants should make an effort to monitor both radio services whenever possible. In all cases, CRN operators must operate professionally and courteously. The use of properly operating radio equipment is necessary. Overpowered, over-modulated CB equipment and noise toys could actually cause a CRN to fail and render it useless due to splatter and bleed-over. Profanity or improper language is absolutely discouraged.
Even use of CB lingo is discouraged as it may cause confusion to an inexperienced operator. Here are some examples of what a CRN can do for a community. This is just a small slice of the potential citizen radio network.
Problem: Streets and highways flooded, houses in danger of flood damage CRN can be implemented to help with traffic diversion keeping traffic moving through the area. Mobile operators can help broadcast alternative routes around flood-impacted areas.
Shelter and evacuation broadcasts can be handled on channel 11 since it is the standard informational channel. Shelters can also participate if the equipment is installed at those locations. Evacuated citizens could help operate the equipment at the shelter and offer them a purpose during the crisis.
Problem: Most streets are impassible. Power is out in many locations. CRN members can pass along welfare information within the neighborhoods. Neighbors without power can be assisted by other neighbors who are in close proximity to them. Sharing of food, water can be quickly implemented with a short walk to a close neighbor in need.
If someone has medical problems, then someone with a plow or snow blower could create a path to their door in case they need to be transported to a hospital. Serious issues can be called into public safety agencies more quickly if neighbors spot trouble.
Situation: Crime or Terrorist Alerts
Problem: Police cannot be everywhere at once. A high level of alert has been announced. CRN members can create neighborhood watch groups. Suspicious individuals can be spotted and reported to the police. Members can watch over local businesses and report problems to authorities. CRN members should only observe and report and never engage a person under suspicion. Increasing the number of observant people in the neighborhood will help to deter criminal activity as well as help identify those who commit crimes.
CRN is about people helping each other within a community. Sharing information and helping others in need can bond a community together. Anyone can start a CRN simply by having the desire to do so. Even a small group can have an impact if they truly desire to help their community. Setting up equipment in convenient locations can help increase a local CRN’s reach.
The events of September 11 have taught us that we need to stick together during times of distress and hardship. CRN helps to achieve this on a local level by enabling people to help their neighbors and community through direct involvement.
Immediately after the atrocity of September 11, I thought we as radio operators could take part in helping out our government and citizens with some type of watch group. The REACT group hasn’t made any plans for such a group, as well as not having a local branch in Massachusetts.
Under the current circumstances, this CRN proposal makes a lot of sense to me. The use of CB and FRS radios makes this a license-free endeavor. And the equipment is readily available and inexpensive therefore making it affordable for almost anyone to stay in touch in times of crisis.I’m not sure if this can be done without a non-profit organization behind it. Reaching people can and keeping them organized can cost money.
It appears that right now they are attempting to do this through sponsorship. If you have any ideas, I strongly suggest you voice your opinion and get involved. This could be a good thing for people in need of help, and for many of us, that feels we need to do something to foil the attempts of those determined to steal our freedom and ultimately eliminate all of us.
The above article is from CitizenRadioNetwork and was submitted by Bob from central Massachusetts. I recommend you follow the links on the site for additional information. In addition, check out the CitizenRadioNetwork@yahoogroups.com there are some interesting messages there. Please join the group and give your opinion and ideas. Spread the word on the air. Give out these web addresses including the CB World Informer site. Bob F