Last updated by Julian – June 2016
South West Hampshire Raynet is part of the Radio Amateur Emergency Network, a nationwide organisation which exists to provide backup communications on behalf of public services in times of emergency. We are mostly radio amateurs, although anyone with an interest in communication is welcome to join: However, under the conditions of the amateur radio licence, only licensed amateurs can actually use the radio.
The terms of the amateur licence mean that we can only pass messages on behalf of bona-fide “user services”. These are listed as:
- British Red Cross Society
- St John Ambulance Brigade
- St Andrew’s Ambulance Association
- Women’s Royal Voluntary Service
- Salvation Army
- HM Coastguard
- Chief Emergency Planning Officer
- Police, Fire or Ambulance Service
- Any UK health authority
- Any UK government department
- Any UK public utility
We assisted the West Sussex group when they were called out for the Chichester floods, our members were involved in the 1987 hurricane clearup, and we were on standby on the night the Hampshire telephone network failed in 2002. Most of our group’s members saw in the new millenium in control rooms for the various Hampshire emergency services: No-one thought the computerised communications systems would fall victim to the ‘Millenium Bug’ (and they didn’t), but we were asked to be there just in case. The whole of Hampshire was on standby for the floods in Gloucestershire when power could have been disrupted over a major area.
As emergencies are fortunately rare, we practice our skills by providing radio cover (on behalf of one of the user services) on all sorts of events: Horse rides, marathons, sponsored cycle rides, and long distance walks.
We also take part in training exercises, where voluntary and full-time emergency service groups practice working together in a simulated major incident. One of Raynet’s strengths is that the members use radio all the time: it’s what we specialise in, and we generally use our own equipment, either owned by groups or personal kit belonging to members. As part of the national Raynet organisation, we can call on operators from adjacent groups to swell our numbers, or provide specialist expertise or equipment, when needed: In return, of course, our members are sometimes asked to go and work with them. In each case, we are all gaining valuable experience in working together.
It’s worth noting that there are a few things we cannot do, especially if you’re thinking of asking us to attend an event you’re organising:
Raynet members do not provide first aid cover:
Although many of our members are trained first aiders, it is not what we’re on your event for.
Raynet members are not traffic marshals:
Raynet members are not trained for this task, and Raynet’s public liability insurance does not cover us to do it.
Raynet members are not event marshals:
If an event checkpoint is short of staff, a Raynet member may lend a hand, but not to the detriment of his/her main task, which is providing communications on behalf of the user service.