|Several of these bulletins have dealt with the items of personal equipment that hams should keep handy and ready for use in emergency
or disaster response operations. For example, clothing suitable for likely conditions, flashlights, non-perishable food items, water and,
obvious for communicators, radio gear suitable for the specific job at hand.
The necessary radio gear often includes hand held radios, used for everything from talk-in to a specific assignment to the primary
communications devices needed to carry out individual duties. Modern walkie-talkies are wonderful devices, capable of easy
programming to many different frequencies that may be called for and coverage over very wide areas. They are flexible, rugged, and
just about indispensable in emergency communications. Unfortunately, as normally equipped when first received, almost all of them rely
on rechargeable nicad batteries.
Anyone who has experience in disaster response operations is familiar with the truism that communications will fail, either through
overload, equipment failure, or both. Indeed, that is precisely the reason why well trained and equipped Radio Amateurs are often
needed to supplement or even replace inadequate communications systems in emergencies.
If hams are to be part of the solution-and not another part of the communications problem-it is obvious that their communications gear
must always be as ready as they are to work.
This brings us back to those nicad batteries with which hand held radios are usually supplied. Nicads are great for many, even most
purposes. They are cheap, and can be recharged many times. But they are much like the big communications failures that can be
expected in emergencies - THEY WILL QUIT EXACTLY WHEN NEEDED THE MOST!
The solution, of course, is the alkaline battery case normally available as an inexpensive accessory to your hand held radio. And a
supply of alkaline batteries that can keep you going indefinitely, with minimum off-the-air time, and without a/c power sources for nicad
chargers that probably aren't available.
Disaster response agencies would do well to keep a supply of fresh AA size alkaline batteries on hand, for their Amateur Radio
--- Bill Musladin, Assistant State RACES Radio Officer, N6BTJ
Archives of California RACES Bulletins are available via anonymous ftp at ftp.ucsd.edu/hamradio/races
The Home Page for the State of California Governor's Office of Emergency Services
contains other information about emergency
response in California and elsewhere .