ARRL Meets with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, met with ARRL leadership at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, DC last month. Fugate, an ARRL member, spoke with ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, and ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, as well as ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, and ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, about Amateur Radio’s role in public service and disaster communications.
Fugate wrote on his blog about the meeting: “For those of you that are not familiar with Amateur Radio, or ham radio as it is sometimes referred, it is the use of certain radio frequencies as a hobby, to exchange non-commercial messages, as a tool for education and experimentation and for public service community activities, including assisting in emergency communications. As a radio amateur, I enjoyed talking with [the ARRL] about the contributions that hams can make in times of disaster ‘when all else fails.’”
Fugate also mentioned that he was looking forward to ARRL Field Day in June, “where I will test my own field gear. It is a great event to encourage first responders and citizens to think about how to prepare for disasters and how to develop a plan for themselves and their communities. And perhaps it will inspire more to consider this great hobby that also has a long and legendary history of public service to the nation. We’re grateful to our friends at the ARRL and look forward to partnering with them in exercises and efforts to plan, prepare, respond and recover from future events that we may face.”
Fugate -- A Strong Proponent for Amateur Radio
In May 2011, Fugate spoke at an earthquake communications preparedness forum hosted by the FCC where he described the Amateur Radio operator as “the ultimate backup, the originators of what we call social media.” In his remarks, Fugate praised Amateur Radio: “During the initial communications out of Haiti [during the January 2010 earthquake], 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. 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 oftentimes is our last line of defense.”
At the forum, Fugate said 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.”