Ukraine FlagAGAIN, politics aside…a reminder on emergency communications and EMCOMMS in worst case scenarios

Credit: ARRL News; Edited by HRAC Webmaster re: EMCOMMS

Radio amateurs in Ukraine appear to be diligently maintaining radio silence as the state of emergency declared there just prior to the Russian military invasion remains in effect. A February 24 decree from President Volodymyr Zelensky included “a ban on the operation of amateur radio transmitters for personal and collective use.” The Ukraine Amateur Radio League (UARL/LRU) reported this past week that it has received many messages of encouragement from the worldwide amateur radio community.

So, in the current situation, the best we can do is listen. We should not try to call Ukrainian radio amateurs. Otherwise, if you hear the words “Emergency”, “Welfare Traffic” or the abbreviation “QUF”, stop transmitting, listen and follow a few simple rules:

When you receive such traffic, listen and write down everything you hear. Stay on the frequency until it’s clear you can’t help AND someone else is helping. Don’t send until you are 100% sure you can help! Follow the instructions of the control station.

The control station is the station that has the emergency or has been designated as such by the station in distress. Keep the news short. Do not exchange useless information. Roughly follow the emergency call scheme that you learned in the first aid course: When did it happen? (date, time, frequency); Where did it happen? (place of emergency); What happened? How can we help? Who can help?

The emergency call can then be passed on to the appropriate authorities. Of course, you must explain calmly and factually what kind of information you have. Don’t panic and stay calm.

And always remember that we are a medium to deliver messages. We can and we do – but no more. Explaining to others how to help is not our job.

Additional Reading

“The LRU informed international amateur radio organizations about Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine,” said the message from UARL Vice President Anatoly Kirilenko, UT3UY. “To date, there have been many reports from radio amateurs around the world in support of Ukraine.”

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) has adopted a neutral stance. “IARU is an apolitical organization focused on promoting and defending amateur radio and the amateur radio services,” the IARU said. “The amateur radio service is about self-instruction in communications and friendship between people.” IARU Region 1 has said it continues to monitor the development and expects all radio amateurs “to follow their national laws and regulations.”

IARU Region 1 also re-posted part of an advisory from the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC) HF Committee on February 27. “Any radio amateur currently transmitting from Ukraine is risking his or her life. If you hear a Ukrainian station, do not broadcast its call sign, location, or frequency — whether on the band, in a cluster, or on social media. You may be putting lives at risk.” The DARC’s overarching advice: “In the current situation, the best we can do is listen.”

Ukraine’s assigned amateur radio call sign prefixes include EMA – EOZ and the more commonplace URA – UZZ. Some stations with Ukrainian call signs may still be active, because an exception to the amateur radio ban was made for stations in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine (eastern Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts), which have special legal status owing to Russia’s occupation since 2014.

In a Facebook post, Poland’s IARU member-society PZK has offered available Winlink nodes in Poland for any licensed refugees. If you are a licensed amateur radio operator, you can send information by email to your relatives in Poland or Emergency Services via the Winlink system. Polish Winlink nodes are active on 160, 80, and 20 meters: SR5WLK, 3.5955 MHz USB; SR3WLK, 14.111 MHz USB, and SP3IEW, 1.865 MHz USB.

W9IMS, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Amateur Radio Club — known for its special events commemorating major races at the Speedway — has posted a statement on its profile expressing its concern for well-known QSL maker Gennady V. Treus, UX5UO. The statement reads in part, “His last email to us said: ‘This moment we are safe, but we hear strong explosions near Kyiv. Do not know what will happen in nearest hours/days.’ We have not heard from him for days now. We are greatly concerned for Gennady and his family along with all the other citizens of Ukraine.” — Thanks to The Daily DX, PZK, and to Brian D. Smith, W9IND, for some information