So here are the take aways and conclusions that I draw from my QSO with April:
- There must be an organization and it must have a plan
- Breaking down the ham volunteers to areas around the hospital, and for time of day, allows for a real and timely response and not a "no one was available" response.
- All members need to be trained before they arrive on the scene - and hams who are not trained should stay home
- Regular and consistent training and drill are keys to success.
- Simple communications, on VHF and UHF, where all members share the same technology is key to communications success. Not everyone has digital modes or is computer literate, even in 2015.
- If you are serving a hospital or another professional institution, the dress code is "casual professional". A low profile during business hours will keep the emergency from becoming common knowledge among the patients and their families. Blinking call sign badges and call sign hats are better left in the car.
- The "Go Kit" should contain not only radios, connectors, antennas, and feedline, but it should also contain food, water, medicine, and any other supplies to keep the ham up and operational for at least six hours.
- Hospital emergency communications is highly valuable. The barriers to entry for hams does not have the red tape that other agencies may impose. Outages are frequent enough that those hams who are active get a lot of on the job training at least a few times a year. They are ready for even larger emergencies and disasters and already have the training and mechanisms to be called out when needed.
Finally, be sure to add your own take-aways in the comments section below.
Eric Guth, 4Z1UG