EMC001 – Emergency Means What?

In the early 1950s, the California State Office of Emergency Services began issuing bulletins to assist agencies and radio operators to become more familiar with RACES. They were issued periodically until 1985, at which time they began to be issued weekly over voice and digital radio systems of Amateur Radio and in print. Originally intended for California, increased demand, and a 1988 request by the ARRL for national distribution, led to their eventual worldwide distribution. With the development of the Internet, demand for these materials soared, leading to their being put online on several FTP sites and a couple of websites, including mine.

I am re-posting some of these articles/bulletins because the information they contain is still timely and, I believe, necessary if Amateur Radio is going to remain a viable communications source for served agencies and entities. I will post them here, with links on my Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Below is EMC001, originally published in the spring of 1996.  More information on the bulletins is available here.

EMC001 – Emergency Means What?

These bulletins are for Emergency Communications units whatever their nature, makeup, affiliation or sponsor. We share a common goal “to assist when there is a need.”

There is a sign around that reads “Your emergency is not necessarily my emergency!”

That applies to us as people AND to governments. The definition of an emergency varies from place to place either by law, custom or some other reason.

While those involved in emergency communications probably know what an emergency is, that’s not the point; rather, let’s be specific so we are talking a standard meaning.

Some areas define emergency as “a situation of disaster or of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property”.

The term “emergency” is also used to identify a conditional state, such as a proclamation by a government. Typically, there are three such conditions: State of War Emergency, State of Emergency, and Local Emergency. (Various areas may define these differently, as by the type of declaration: i.e., Federal, State, County, Local.)

Webster defines it as “a sudden or unexpected occurrence or combination of occurrences demanding prompt action.” That definition seems to fit well in communications. Perhaps we can adopt that as a standard meaning.

While all this may seem obvious to experienced responders we cannot afford to assume that we currently share a common language across state and national boundaries. Effective communication systems begin with good understanding of words and meanings. If you think you know what “communication” means, take a look at Roget’s International Thesaurus. You may find it enlightening to discover the many uses for the term.

The next bulletin, will review “incident” and “disaster”.


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