Administrator Calls Amateur Radio:
"The Last Line of Defense"
In an FCC
forum on earthquake communications preparedness, Federal Emergency
Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate described the Amateur
Radio operator as "the ultimate backup, the originators
of what we call social media." The forum -- held
May 3, 2011 at FCC Headquarters in Washington, DC -- brought together
officials from the White House, the Department of Homeland Security,
the United States Geological Survey, FEMA, the FCC and the private
sector. Fugate and FCC Bureau of Public Safety and Homeland Security
Chief Jamie Barnett gave the opening remarks.
Later in the
forum, Fugate spoke more on Amateur Radio. "During the initial
communications out of Haiti, volunteers using assigned frequencies
that they are allocated, their own equipment, their own money,
nobody pays them, were the first ones oftentimes getting word
out in the critical first hours and first days as the rest of
the systems came back up," he told the forum. "I think
that there is a tendency because we have done so much to build
infrastructure and resiliency in all our other systems, we have
tended to dismiss that role 'When Everything Else Fails.' Amateur
Radio often times is our last line of defense."
that he thinks "we get so sophisticated and we have gotten
so used to the reliability and resilience in our wireless and
wired and our broadcast industry and all of our public safety
communications, that we can never fathom that they'll fail. They
do. They have. They will. I think a strong Amateur Radio community
[needs to be] plugged into these plans. Yes, most of the time
they're going be bored, because a lot of the time, there's not
a lot they're going to be doing that other people aren't doing
with Twitter and Facebook and everything else. But when you need
Amateur Radio, you really need them."