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Suppose that several licensed amateurs are part of a volunteer search and rescue team. The team is normally licensed and carries equipment to communicate on a variety of public safety bands in VHF/UHF during missions and training, and we are allowed to use law enforcement bands as needed to coordinate with various agencies.

In the case that there is a technical or other issue with the communication equipment during a mission or training. Would the licensed amateur operators be legally allowed to do any of the following?

  1. Communicate on ham bands for life/safety critical updates (I believe "YES"?)

  2. Use ham bands for regular mission traffic and coordination that is not immediately life critical. (I suspect no?)

  3. Tie up ham repeaters for the purposes of above. (Probably not and not without annoying them)

  4. Use ham bands to test / inspect team equipment when not on mission/training. (I believe "Yes"?)

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    $\begingroup$ Local volunteer SAR teams around me use ham amongst themselves, and often the state police have a ham operator to coordinate if needed. The state supports the state-wide ham repeater network specifically to support emergency situations including SAR. Nobody complains if they take over a few repeaters for emergency use, which is built into the command set to be able to do it easily (isolate them from the rest of the network). $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 14 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster thank you! We are at an interesting position where the LE and Ranger portion of the public safety sector is going to digital w/encryption and taking down their analog repeaters, while the SAR , Medical, and Fire are sticking with analog. There isn't a state coordinate ham repeater, afaik (how would I find out?). We do have our own portable repeaters an infrastructure I can deploy, I am tasked with coming up with some "Plan Bs" that a single team can implement where we previously relied on LE analog equipment as backup. $\endgroup$
    – crasic
    Jan 14 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ I would get with your state ARRL coordinator to see what other folks are doing. Public service is a key part of ARRL, including support for ARES. I suspect other teams are scrambling for a solution, so easier to all get together. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 14 at 16:50

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Use ham bands for regular mission traffic and coordination that is not immediately life critical. (I suspect no?)

If nobody is being paid, yes, since you are all volunteers and hams. But if you have an alternate radio that everyone has, that might be preferable.

Tie up ham repeaters for the purposes of above. (Probably not and not without annoying them)

Only with the approval of the repeater trustee, who can decide when it is annoying or inappropriate, or they can decide to bring in more hams to help with the situation

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  • $\begingroup$ > Only with the approval of the repeater trustee. Most of whom would probably be happy to allow it. $\endgroup$ Jan 15 at 1:05

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