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Old March 5th 08, 05:45 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

Bill Horne wrote:
Steve Bonine wrote:
I would like to see other opinions on this issue, which came up in
passing in another group.

One of the participants there mentioned that a ham radio license has
been added as an employment condition for some of their professional
responders. Presumably the motivation is based on a desire to have a
known population of people who can use ham radio technology in a
disaster if nothing else is working.

I have two questions on this.

Is this a common situation? I hadn't heard of a formal requirement
until it was mentioned on the other forum, but a couple more people
came forward and said that it was in place in their area. Is it
happening in your area?


Not that I know of.

Do you think it's a good idea?


I wouldn't mind having a job that required me to be a ham, but being
required to have a ham license in addition to being trained for some
other field does, as others have pointed out, risk degrading the quality
of applicant.

I think what the emcomm managers _really_ want is a commercially
licensed emergency radio technician and communicator, but there's no
license for that. The problem with requiring a ham license is that
there's so much variability in the training and currency of hams, not to
mention their physical condition, that I don't think that having a ham
license is a reliable indicator of emcomm proficiency.

After all, _any_ municipal employee can be trained to operate a two-way
radio: what's required in an emergency is guys that can operate the
radio _and_ put up the antenna _and_ figure out which rigs can share a
power supply _and_ figure out which existing antennas are "close enough"
for the frequency needed _and_ get a CD-badged Gooneybox to communicate
with an FM radio. Long story short, I think requiring a ham license
involves an assumption that anyone with a license knows how to operate
and improvise in an emergency, and that's not true.

FWIW. YMMV.

73, Bill W1AC
(Remove QRM from my address for direct replies.)


I have to strongly agree with my brother here. (Yes its come to this.
Its come to this. And wasn't it a long way down.) I'm deliberately
trying to prepare myself to be an effective emergency communicator and
I'll just go ahead and admit that it is a lot heavier going then I
initially anticipated. There is an awful lot to learn only some of
which is radio theory and practice. I'm part way through the ARRL
Emergency Communications Level I course and they have already devoted
two sections to subjects like the relationship with the served agency.
Some Hams have trouble with the idea that no one wants them to read
messages to each other any more. The folks who need our help in order
to help the actual victims want to sit down at their laptop, compose an
email and expect us to get it were it needs to go. One of the best
answers to limited training time is to use technologically based best
practice and apply it to the problem. An emergency manager will get a
lot more out of my Amateur TeleVision (ATV) signal then he / she will
ever get out of my verbal description of what I'm seeing. If they use a
VCR I can get a lot of windshield survey done very quickly. The people
responsible for supporting the response can get a lot more information
out of that video by syncing it with an APRS position record of were I
was then they'd very get out of brief verbal reports. I hear some
fellow Amateurs moaning that "they just want appliance operators." Cash
your reality check guys that's what they've always wanted from us. It's
only the sophistication of the appliances and the expectations for what
is possible using them that are changing.
--
Tom Horne

"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous
for general use." Thomas Alva Edison


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Old March 5th 08, 06:02 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment


On Mon, 3 Mar 2008 14:39:33 EST, Michael Coslo wrote:

It isn't a requirement in our area, but it is apparently strongly
encouraged. This is one of the situations that I refer to as
"Professional Hams". It is truly a profound change in emergency
operations.


The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
(JCAHO) - is now requiring that every Emergency Department ("ER") that
they accredit have ham radio as a backup communications system for
emergencies when other communication systems fail, and as a result,
the regional hospital system at which I volunteer is using licensed
staff people normally in the ER to be able to act until a volunteer or
licensed off-duty staff person can respond. As long as the responding
staff person is off duty, the "no pecuniary interest" test is
satisfied.

We are establishing a system-wide capability of both HF and VHF/UHF
ham stations at each hospital, clinic, and the Regional Emergency
Command Center. During the severe storms last December, ham radio was
the only link to two hospitals whose telephone, internet, cellphone,
and electric services were knocked out for several days, and as a
result, both medical and support staff people have been expressing an
interest in getting themselves and their family members licensed, if
only to be able to keep contact with their families and still be of
service when needed.

As far as being a requirement for employment, let me relate a parallel
situation with the commercial General Radio Telephone Operator License
that happened shortly after the FCC stopped requiring that license to
service land-mobile (2-way) radios. A local utility in San Francisco
continued to require that their radio technicians have that license as
a condition of employment (under union pressure, I understand) and
someone took that to the State Labor Board, which ruled that if the
FCC Rules did not require it, it was a non-job-related requirement on
the part of the employer and could not be enforced. The State of
California and the railroads got away with keeping the requirement
because they operated marine/aviation stations at airports and
bridges where the licensed-technician requirement still applied.

In sort, a ham license cannot be required for a job except as
permitted under the FCC Rules. Getting the employer(s) to accept this
is another story - someone must be willing (and have the deep pockets)
to take it to litigation if need be.
--

73 de K2ASP - Phil Kane
ARRL Volunteer Counsel

email: k2asp [at] arrl [dot] net

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Old March 5th 08, 06:09 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

On Tue, 4 Mar 2008 05:37:43 EST, Bill Horne wrote:

I think what the emcomm managers _really_ want is a commercially
licensed emergency radio technician and communicator, but there's no
license for that.


Actually, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials
(APCO) does have training courses and certificates for just those
specialties, and it's up to the Comm Director to go forward with those
things and get the staff trained.
--

73 de K2ASP - Phil Kane

From a Clearing in the Silicon Forest

Beaverton (Washington County) Oregon

e-mail: k2asp [at] arrl [dot] net

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Old March 5th 08, 04:25 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

Phil Kane wrote:
On Mon, 3 Mar 2008 14:39:33 EST, Michael Coslo wrote:

It isn't a requirement in our area, but it is apparently strongly
encouraged. This is one of the situations that I refer to as
"Professional Hams". It is truly a profound change in emergency
operations.


The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
(JCAHO) - is now requiring that every Emergency Department ("ER") that
they accredit have ham radio as a backup communications system for
emergencies when other communication systems fail, and as a result,
the regional hospital system at which I volunteer is using licensed
staff people normally in the ER to be able to act until a volunteer or
licensed off-duty staff person can respond. As long as the responding
staff person is off duty, the "no pecuniary interest" test is
satisfied.



And that is fits my description of the way Ham radio for Emcomms is
heading. If I was a supervisor, and in an emergency, I'm going to pick
the person who works for me instead of a possibly unknown quantity.

I've headed up some works using volunteers. You have to treat them a
lot differently, and many of those differences are solved by having a
paid person for whom you can issue direct orders to.

As for the "off duty" business, that one is quite easy to solve. If it
is a salaried employee, on and off duty time isn't always that clear anyhow.

I would be willing to wager an adult beverage that in 10 years, the
hobbyist ham involved in emcomms will be completely replaced by those
"off duty" professional hams. It's conjecture of course, but I've seen
the beginnings of that. And your above description certainly fits.


- 73 de Mike N3LI -

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Old March 5th 08, 04:27 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

Tom Horne wrote:


I have to strongly agree with my brother here. (Yes its come to this.
Its come to this. And wasn't it a long way down.)


And the camera pans the stand in stunt man...... ;^)

some snippage

was then they'd very get out of brief verbal reports. I hear some
fellow Amateurs moaning that "they just want appliance operators." Cash
your reality check guys that's what they've always wanted from us. It's
only the sophistication of the appliances and the expectations for what
is possible using them that are changing.



Yeah, mostly. The issue that I see is this.

The Emcomm managers go to the school of "Just tell me what to do". Not
really a bad idea. No manager should have to know the technical details
of say an ATV repeater, although a little knowledge might be good, as in
when the conditions prevent proper operation.

What I see as a possible problem is that as the hobbyist Hams are phased
out, these technical innovations might not filter down to practice as
easily. They might not be operated by people who know what to do when
the wheels fall off. It's all transparent as long as we push the button
on that appliance and it works. But when it doesn't??

I should probably take this moment to not that I am NOT "anti Emcomm".
In fact, as my retirement comes around, I intend to volunteer as a way
to pay back to the community. I'm hoping that there will be a place for
the hobbyist and technically savvy Ham to do that.

but I do have some concerns.

- 73 de Mike N3LI -



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Old March 6th 08, 04:43 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

On Wed, 5 Mar 2008 11:27:28 EST, Michael Coslo wrote:

I'm hoping that there will be a place for
the hobbyist and technically savvy Ham to do that.


C'mon to our hospital. We have several such ham volunteers (including
me) and at least two staff people that fit that very description. For
the non-technical folks, we have an operations chart which says that
if Channel A fails, go to Channel B and here's how you do it. It's up
to us techies to make sure that those channels are available where
they are needed. I look up to their medical and hospital procedural
knowledge as much as they look up to our radio knowledge. I learned
an awful lot during the several shifts that I pulled during the
December storms.
--

73 de K2ASP - Phil Kane

From a Clearing in the Silicon Forest

Beaverton (Washington County) Oregon

e-mail: k2asp [at] arrl [dot] net



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