Neighborhood Radio Network
Neighborhood Radio Network
If you have an active organization in your neighborhood create your own Neighborhood Radio Network.
Establish your first group with people in your group that you trust and try out FRS, GMRS, or CB to determine how effective it will be. Use it to:
1) Announce suspicious activity in progress AFTER you report it to the police.
2) Keep watch on Halloween night.
3) At other neighborhood functions.
Once you begin to have some experience with the radios you can slowly expand it to the rest of your organization. Remember that when the whole neighborhood knows your local burglar might know as well. Many burglaries are, committed by young male residents of the immediate area in which you live.
Start small and keep it simple. Use the small FRS radios first among your board members. Test out the effectiveness of the radios in your neighborhood as you pass out meeting notices or leaflets.
Encourage neighbors to talk to each other by radio as they come to the Neighborhood Watch or homes association meetings.
Keep in mind that you will probably encounter what we call, resistance to technology. It will be hard to explain, at first, why a small two-way radio can be such a benefit. When you encounter resistance to technology loan the person a radio and see what happens.
Depending on where you live and the terrain around your neighborhood, CB, FRS, or GMRS could be a viable crime prevention tool for your neighborhood.
The first thing you must do before even thinking about connecting neighbors by two-way radio is connecting them in person at a crime prevention meeting with your local police agency in attendance.
Invite your local police department to attend a gathering of neighbors. Tell your police advisor that you want to create a Neighborhood Watch group and participate in National Night Out and other crime prevention activities that your police department may sponsor. Tell them that several of your neighbors own GMRS, FRS, or CB radios and they want to use those radios to supplement their crime prevention activities.
Your police department can help you understand the issues that concern them in your neighborhood and vice versa.
Discuss whether your police department will also offer disaster preparedness training to your neighbors. This can often be a very big bonus. Knowing how your community works in a disaster is very important for your family.
Another very important step is to find the Ham radio operators in your neighborhood. Not CB, not GMRS, not FRS but, the radio enthusiasts of the Amateur Radio Service.
Hams, as they are known, are often trained in the proper techniques for handling emergency messages by radio. There may be a Ham radio operator already assigned to your neighborhood to help get emergency messages to public safety officials in time of local disaster. Your local Hams are probably already a solid part of your local community's emergency preparedness team.
When you find your Hams, ask them if they are already volunteering in RACES/ARES. (They will know what these acronyms mean.) If they are not current members ask them if they would join and report on those activities at your homes association or Neighborhood Watch meetings.
A Ham is one of the most valuable neighbors you can have.
You can rely on your neighborhood Ham to help you set up a network of neighbors with two-way radios within your neighborhood.
Staying in touch by two-way radio isn't rocket science. Many neighborhoods have used CB hand-held radios or CB base stations for years. Many rural areas use CB radio. GMRS and FRS are uniquely adaptable to urban and semi-urban applications.
The most important thing to remember is to keep it simple. Your friends and neighbors are not radio enthusiasts. They are interested in staying safe, not in the disciplined techniques of a Ham-like radio network. A Neighborhood Network is going to be an informal network of concerned citizens that will develop their own expertise over time. Some of the same radio network principals that Hams have used over time might apply but again what you want to stress is simplicity. If you scare your neighbors away with a bureaucracy they won't join.
HCUSAR is aware that bad guys use two-way radio too. The tiny unlicensed radios of the Family Radio Service have become as popular with dope dealers and burglars as they have with families and business users. CB radios are in use by dope dealers and hookers around truck stops and in the inner cities. Even other two-way radio services are, bootlegged by bad guys. Nothing is sacred anymore.
A neighborhood crime prevention or Neighborhood Watch team might want to ask a radio enthusiast to monitor the FRS channels on a scanner and report any suspicious activity heard to the police. FRS transmissions can reliable be heard from 1/4 to one mile by another FRS radio. It is the EXCEPTION rather than the rule that an FRS radio can be heard at greater distances. (Depending on your surroundings)
It is also important for neighbors using CB, FRS, and GMRS radios to understand that their transmissions can be heard and understood by others. It is a great idea to have local code names for places and people. Use plain language to communicate but agree on ways to keep others from deciphering the complete content of your transmissions.
Remember that using the scrambled FRS radios does not guarantee privacy. Those radios can also be purchased and used by the bad guys.
Bad people, including the ones living in your neighborhood, have access to two-way radio too.
When you create a Neighborhood Radio Network you also run a very serious risk. We at HCUSAR want you to make sure you choose the BEST communication tool for your situation and that you understand when and when not use it.
When any citizen in your neighborhood sees a crime in progress, the number one priority is notifying the police by calling 911 (nine-one-one). Do not delay. Call 911 and remain on the line while the trained dispatcher asks you questions.
I can tell you from personal experience, having worked in emergency service field for 9 years, that law enforcement and medical dispatchers have their act together. While they have you on the telephone they are dispatching assistance to your in progress report. They will want to keep you on the telephone if you are reporting a crime in progress. Cooperate with the dispatcher. They are your Lifeline and YOU are their eyes.
Always call 911 in an emergency before you call a neighbor. Never leave the telephone UNTIL a dispatcher excuses you.
When you have handled the emergency with the police or fire department then it is appropriate to engage in your Neighborhood Radio Network activities.
NEVER COUNT ON CB, FRS, OR GMRS TO SAVE YOUR LIFE.
Your neighbors may not always be listening to your Neighborhood Radio Network. There may not be anyone listening to the local GMRS, or Ham repeater. USE THE TELEPHONE OR USE YOUR CELLULAR TELEPHONE to report emergencies. Use your Neighborhood Radio Network as an organizational network designed to supplement activities or assist in a declared emergency or local disaster as part of your disaster plan. Two-way radio systems are part of a larger plan. People have to understand what the radios can do and why they should use them and when they should use them.
When your Neighborhood Radio Network is active have a neighbor act as your dispatcher. Make sure they have a telephone handy, or they have access to your neighborhood Ham radio operator when the telephones are down.
Never expect to raise anyone out of the blue, expect to raise someone as part of a plan. Get your priorities straight and plan ahead. By all means incorporate two-way radio into your neighborhood disaster and crime prevention plan. The keyword is PLAN.
How many of you know a senior citizen that doesn't get out much? Health and mobility concerns might keep them indoors much of the time.
The first part of a good plan for persons like this is to subscribe to a medical alarm service. A wireless device that the senior carries around their neck or on their belt can be activated. The device signals a telephone dialer that calls an alarm dispatch center. Some devices provide an immediate talk channel to the senior if they cannot get to the telephone. Others are simple panic alarms. In either case a medical dispatch is made.
The second part of a plan is to have the senior enroll in Medic Alert. A list of medications should be kept on or about the refrigerator or medicine cabinet of the home.
The third essential item is to make arrangements with your fire department to put a lock box at the front door. A lock box allows responding fire and medical personnel to get the key and let themselves in. Such a device saved my mother's life as she had a stroke.
As an informal method of checking up on seniors, give them an FRS radio. Call them several times a day if you can't go over to see them.
There are some things you should be aware of. Remember that anyone can listen in on your conversation - even in scrambled modes. Never discuss identity, bank accounts, or anything personal. As a rule of thumb, don't discuss anything that you wouldn't discuss with a stranger.
A tiny FRS radio or desk-top unit would be an excellent way to check up on a senior. You both might enjoy it. If the senior does not answer according a to a predetermined plan you go check on them. (Hopefully you planned ahead and have a key!)
Remember the radio cannot save you, only a plan can help you plan ahead. Practice makes perfect. The more you use your plan the better you will be when the critical times occur.
I can't over stress that any radio given to a senior or a child be very easy to use. Make sure your senior understands how to turn it on, off, push the talk button etc. Practice and have fun, but take your plan seriously.
Remember that if you enter into an arrangement like this with, someone else you are signing up to be part of a plan. There is a risk. The senior may only be able to reach for the FRS radio in an emergency. Now what? Well, you had better be there to answer the FRS radio call! Your plan should include the hours during which you will listen to your radio so the senior KNOWS to carry their professional alerting devices. They always do the right things, you just have to be prepared.
We suggest a desktop FRS radio plugged into a wall outlet set on the same channel all the time. (Plan to have a backup battery powered FRS radio.) Have the volume high enough so you can hear it while you walk around the house. If you use CTCSS or DCS make sure the senior doesn't change tones.
In the country, you might want to use CB radio. Install a base station in the senior's home and set up schedules with yourself and others. Two-way radio can tie a community and neighbors together because you are all watching out for each other and alerting each other when problems occur.
Use two-way radio wisely by planning ahead.