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Digital Subscriptions > American Survival Guide > April 2016 > CRISIS COMMS



As a ham radio operator, you are free to choose whatever equipment you wish that meets your communications needs. It can be complex and include advanced features with extended capabilities, or it can be simple and do the bare minimum to establish reliable communications.

Regardless of what you choose, you, as the sole operator, will eventually master it and become quite proficient. Put that same piece of equipment in the hands of someone who does not share your experience, and the results could be quite different.


In a group setting, a standardized piece of equipment, whether it is a weapons platform or communications gear, should be settled upon and consistently employed. Each member of the group should have experience using the same equipment and will be able to assist others if a problem arises (at least to some degree). Having a group standard also ensures that a part or accessory for that piece of gear—for instance, a charging handle for a rifle or a charging cradle for a radio—is interchangeable.

Having a plan is not enough—practicing the plan together beforehand will expose any weakness and offer an opportunity to take corrective measures.

It is important to consider the abilities of the group as a whole when choosing communications gear. If there is little time (or willingness) for training and conducting field exercises, only the most basic equipment might be permissible; complicated radios will lead to confusion—and ultimately, failure—in high-stress situations. If all members are able to spend time in training, more-advanced gear might be suitable.

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