Alcorn Conty Mississippi EMA

Alcorn County
Emergency Management Agency

Protecting and Serving the citizens of
Alcorn County Mississippi

Alcorn County 911

Alcorn County Emergency Communications
Mission Statement

Alcorn County Emergency Communications is part of a nation wide movement to encourage all Americans to have FRS (Family Radio Service) or GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) radios that can be used in emergencies.  These radios are inexpensive, easy to operate, and don't rely on any centralized network, and can fill in when the Internet, cell phones or landline phones fail.  September 11, the northeast blackout of 2003, hurricanes Katrina and Rita -- these show how quickly and thoroughly natural and man-made disasters can utterly destroy regular means of communication.  And without communication nothing else works. 

Alcorn County Emergency Communications tells people:  In an emergency, tune your FRS or GMRS radio to channel 1.  Somebody will be there to help you, and you can also provide important information about what you see and know. 

Alcorn County Emergency Communications's mission includes these objectives:

1.  To encourage everyone who lives in Alcorn County to have FRS or GMRS radios that they can use in an emergency.

2.  To coordinate with local organizations such as police stations, fire houses, hospitals and supermarkets to ensure communications in an emergency.

3.  To develop a national network using FRS and GMRS radios so that anyone, anywhere, can use their radio to communicate in an emergency on FRS emergency channel 1.  Every family and business should have at least two FRS or GMRS radios. 

Email Alcorn County Emergency Communications

Back to main page

Alcorn County Emergency Communications
A Robust, Invulnerable Communications Network that Citizens Can Use

The Emergency Radio Network is designed to work in situations where other modes of communication fail. This article describes how Alcorn County Emergency Communications is different from other communications systems.

In a crisis, the Internet may not be available -- computers require electricity and power outages often accompany disasters. And the DSL or cable lines that transmit the actual bits and bytes may simply break or be destroyed, depending on the kind of disaster.

Land line phones, while usually very reliable, can also fail: Floods can short underground lines, and severe weather, such as ice storms, tornados, severe thunderstorms and hurricanes, can damage overhead phone lines. And land line phones are useless if you need to communicate outdoors, something that needs to happen often during emergencies. (How can you search for a lost child or pet outdoors if you can't communicate?)

Cell phones may or may not work, depending on the nature of the emergency. In the Washington, DC area, government officials have priority access to cell phone networks, so it's possible that you won't be able to get a dial tone when you want one. Virtually everyone's experienced the problem of not being able to connect to their cell phone provider at one time or another. Cell towers have battery backups that last only a handful of hours, and cell phones themselves need to be charged, so in a power outage, your cell phone may not work. Cell phones also only let you talk with one person at a time, and while that can be very important, cell phones don't facilitate the dissemination of information. And, as recently revealed, cell phone networks can be jammed by hackers by sending a large number of text message through the network.

Amateur radio operators have been providing invaluable emergency communications in crisis after crisis and saving lives, and will continue to do so. There are relatively few trained amateur radio operators in any given neighborhood, so their deploymentmay be limited. To borrow a phrase, you can never find a good ham radio operator when you need one. Some amateur radio emergency nets operate like Alcorn County Emergency Communications, with radio to radio communications; others rely on repeaters and individuals who act as net controllers -- two points of vulnerability in an emergency.

CB radios also have their place in an emergency. CB radios, which can be battery powered like Alcorn County Emergency Communications radios, are relatively portable and easy to use. Their range can be greater than GMRS and FRS radios. While CB radios often have a greater range than GMRS or FRS radios, because of the wavelength and modulation these radios use, they may not be effective for short-range communications. The distribution of CB radios in any given neighborhood or city may not be that extensive; in addition, CB radios, while portable, are not as compact or as simple to use as GMRS and FRS radios. The emergency CB channel is channel 9.

Satellite phones work even where almost nothing else works. As long as your phone is charged and you can see the sky, you will be able to make and receive calls. Unfortunately, satellite phones are expensive to purchase and use -- the monthly fees and per-minute charges are very high.

Emergency Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISP), using mesh networks, can provide telephone and data services in the aftermath of an emergency, as they did during Hurricane Katrina. But WISPs can't help during the first few hours or possibly days of an emergency.

Alcorn County Emergency Communications is not a perfect communications system -- there is no such thing. It relies on untrained individuals; it uses a network where the number of people on the air is uncertain. But those flaws are also Alcorn County Emergency Communications's strength. Because Alcorn County Emergency Communications does not have to use trained operators, all the network needs is at least two people with radios and in range of each other: anyone with an FRS or GMRS radio can participate. There's no net operator who has to be in a key position for the network to function; there's no pre-positioned equipment necessary. Alcorn County Emergency Communications is robust, virtually indestructible and reliable. Because the radios that Alcorn County Emergency Communications employs are easy to use --easier than cell phones-- being part of the Alcorn County Emergency Communications doesn't require any advanced training. For instance, two Alcorn County Emergency Communications members could provide quick communications between a hospital emergency room and the hospital's helicopter landing pad, just as easily as they could provide communications between two houses on either side of a neighborhood.

One of the great strengths of the Internet is that if one part of the Internet breaks, the Internet itself will continue to work -- messages and data will use other, unbroken, paths. Unfortunately, if you're on the part of the Internet that's not working --if you're in the middle of a power failure, hurricane, terrorist attack, chemical spill or some other disaster, that robustness doesn't help you. If you have to go outside, the Internet's built-in redundancy isn't particularly useful. Like the Internet, Alcorn County Emergency Communications is redundant and can't be shut down. But unlike the Internet, Alcorn County Emergency Communications's is locally redundant -- it will continue to work where you happen to be and where you need to communicate. All Alcorn County Emergency Communications needs is at least two people within range of each other.

An emergency communications system should:

* Be something that non-technically oriented and untrained people can use -- and remember how to use during an emergency
* Work during a prolonged power outage (one that's longer than a few hours, after which cell phones don't function)
* Be useable indoors and outdoors, since you can't predict where you'll be or have to go during an emergency
* Work even if part of the network fails
* Not rely on the Internet, which may be unavailable during a crisis

Using GMRS radios can help overcome one of the most acute problems during emergencies: a lack of interoperability among emergency workers. In the absence of a unified communications system the best way for people in different organizations, agencies and buildings to communicate is with the same kind of radio. In other words, put one GMRS radio and a Alcorn County Emergency Communications volunteer in a hospital emergency room and another in a police station and you've established a temporary, but workable way to communicate.

The most important element of any emergency communications system is that it works. If it doesn't work, nothing else matters. Alcorn County Emergency Communications is designed to be simple to participate in -- so simple that even a child can use it. Alcorn County Emergency Communications's ease of use doesn't detract from its power; it is the source of this robust communication system's effectiveness.

Back to main Alcorn County EMA page
Email us

If you need to evacuate your home or office, take your Alcorn County Emergency Communications radio with you.

City Emergency Communications Systems: Not Ready for Prime Time

A 2005 survey by the US Conference of Mayors identified communications --the lack of emergency communications-- as a major problem for cities in an emergency. The report found among cities:

34 percent did not have the basic radio communications between police, fire departments and emergency medical responders.
49 percent couldn't connect with state police by radio.
60 percent did not have emergency responders who could talk to state emergency operations centers by radio.
78 percent with a college or stadium did not have emergency responders who could communicate by radio with college or stadium security.
88 percent did not have first responders who could radio the Department of Homeland Security or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
90 percent did not have responders who could communicate by radio with their own National Guard units.
92 percent with a seaport did not have emergency responders who could communicate by radio with port authorities.
97 percent with a major chemical plant did not have emergency responders who could communicate with those plants by radio.

accEcomms FAQ's

The Web Designer

Site design and Hosting by
Gadget Inc. Computer Systems
Copyright Gadget Inc. 1996 - 2017