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Ham radio: An integral piece of hospitals’ emergency plans

In a situation where power is out and cell towers are down, ham radios remain a reliable source of communication.

Amateur or ham radio allows licensed radio operators to communicate with others near and far without relying on an internet connection, cell phones or landlines. Many ham radio operators consider it a hobby, but for hospitals, it is a very important resource in the event of a disaster.

Ham radio volunteers Skagit Regional Health

In a situation where power is out and cell towers are down, ham radios remain a reliable source of communication. This is a particularly important tool that allows hospitals and emergency agencies to communicate.

Every week, SRH volunteers test radio communication between our two hospital campuses and the Disaster Medical Coordination Center (DMCC) in Everett along with local county emergency management agencies. This weekly check-in ensures that equipment is functional and that volunteers are experienced in communicating with other hospitals in the event of an emergency. In a mass casualty or widespread disaster situation, DMCC would assist in patient movement between hospitals. If typical communication methods were unavailable, radios would serve as the primary mode of communication, making the radio operator an indispensable member of the emergency management team.

Skagit Regional Health has radio equipment at Skagit Valley Hospital and Cascade Valley Hospital and at several outpatient clinics: Camano Island, Darrington, Granite Falls, Smokey Point and Stanwood. While the equipment is an important piece of the emergency plan, having licensed radio operators on either end to communicate remains a vital need.

Volunteers wanted

SRH would benefit from employees and community volunteers who have an FCC license to test and operate hospital and clinic radios on amateur frequencies. SRH would like to update our roster of trained and prepared responders who may be called upon to assist in an emergency.

Ham radio volunteers Skagit Regional Health

Training to become familiar with the radio equipment at the hospitals and clinics is available.

Interested in learning more?

Visit  Getting Licensed ( to learn more about becoming a licensed radio operator or contact Skagit Regional Health’s Volunteer Services department department to speak to one of our radio volunteers.

Upcoming trainings

The Snohomish Auxiliary Communications Service team will be partnering with the City of Arlington in offering classes to allow beginners to obtain their first Amateur Radio license. Classes include the textbook, classroom instruction and the Federal Communication Commission test over two days. The next class will be held at the Arlington City Council Chambers in early November. More information will be posted at a future date. The cost is $30.00 cash or check paid directly to the instructor. Previous class information and registration was posted here: Contact Scott Honaker at [email protected] or 425-330-5439 with questions.