New Global Emergency Communications Network launches

For the past year or so, there has been a lot of activity going on behind the scenes to establish an alternative international amateur radio emergency communications network that will serve various communities and authorities during and after disasters.

The team comprises a network of seasoned and experienced operators who have put together a totally new concept in emergency communication!

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Global Emergency Communications Network – or GEM for short, which has come into operation.

The group will operate on the normal international emergency frequencies as stipulated during various Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (GAREC) network conferences and will also be available on the Echolink Conference *KA1AAA* for passing messages!

The Charter which formulates the activities of the group is available on our website for perusal. A new protocol we have introduced is the appointment or acceptance of members. Initially any person who would like to join the network will be accepted as a Supporter.

Once the Supporter has been ‘interviewed’ via e-mail and other means he/she will be evaluated and then possibly accepted as a member. We wish to make it very clear that although we acknowledge your interest in joining GEM there are certain criteria that have to be met.

These include the following: – Your availability at any time to be called up, the equipment available to you for emergency communication, your specific interest in emergency communication, your very specific qualifications as to how we can fit you into the organisation and how often you can log in on a daily basis to cover all eventualities on our various means of presence!

Passing messages is one thing but being able to get the message through – whatever the circumstances, is the critical factor! We would also like to establish what other means are at your disposal!

GEM has no outright head or leader – yet the responsibility of leadership at any given time is shared by either the founding members or any person accepting a call at any time prior to establishing a network from where we will establish a formal network to handle any emergency emerging from that initial call!

It is GEM’s intention to appoint various sub teams and leaders placed strategically around the Globe so we can monitor our various sites on a 24/7 basis. We are also developing a bulk SMS system whereby initiation of an emergency or call to respond, can happen a lot quicker than under normal circumstances!

We tried this after the Japanese March 11 quake/tsunami. After one bulk SMS around the Globe, we had a net going within 15 minutes of the call going out!

If ever professionalism in amateur radio was an underlying statement, GEM endeavours to meet that challenge. GEM is a young organisation but once you have evaluated our operating procedures, you will be sure that you are joining a group that has the best interest of amateur radio and the community at the forefront. We are making use of tried and trusted means of communication which is available to serve the international community.

GEM will coordinate and work with any similar organisations around the globe that have the same enthusiasm for emergency communications at heart.

Please visit us at http://www.gem-int.org for more information.

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