Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Boston Bombings and Personal Security

Political discussions and cometary have no place in this blog, so please don't get all wrapped around the axle by the title of this posting. 

I have a long time friend, Jim Fitton, W1FMR, who recently sent me an e-mail with an attachment that really got me thinking about my personal security in general and our radio hobby in particular. I've known Jimmy for over 40 years. We are both QRPers (low power under 5W) radio amateurs, experienced homebrewers, and members of the QRP Amateur Radio Club International. Since I am an only child I don't have a brother. If I could place an order for a brother I'd want Jimmy to apply for the job! 

Initially I started this blog in the belief that the information contained in the e-mail Jim sent me was valid. However, shortly after posting this blog I had second thoughts and pulled it from the site. These feelings prompted me to Google on Juval Aviv and I found a number of incongruities that impacted his credentials. 

Having pulled the original text I will go ahead and quote one portion of the e-mail allegedly credited to Aviv regarding our inadequacy as American citizens in the war on terror and what could possibly happen during the next major terror event. Even if the quote is bogus, it points out a few things that need to be addressed regarding our personal security and the security of our loved ones. 

Allegedly Aviv was the Israeli Mossad Agent upon whom the movie "Munich" was based. This docu-drama outlined the hunt for the Palestinian terrorists that killed the Israeli athletes in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, W. Germany. Although it is questionalble that Aviv was ever a Mossad agent  he boasts credentials that are impressive. Allegedly he is a security and counter-terrorism consultant for Congress. 

Personal Note: Those of us who have served overseas whether it be in the U.S. military, Foreign Service or as commercial contractors, have had a bit of psychological conditioning that the normal American citizen hasn't. Namely we have been cautioned to be alert and aware of your current situation and surroundings. To be vigilant especially for bags, brief cases, suit cases,  and backpacks left unattended in populated areas. These are one of the most common methods used by terrorists to deliver bombs. An unattended bag is suspect and should be reported immediately to police, security personnel or EMS personnel.  Do not hesitate: DO IT, NOW!!!

The one thing that really caught my attention in this e-mail was  the following quote allegedly attributed to Aviv:

"Does your family know what to do if you can't contact one another by phone? Where would you gather in an emergency? Aviv says that the U.S. Government has in force a plan that, in the event of another terrorist attack, will immediately cut-off EVERYONE's ability to use cell phones, as this is the preferred communication source used by terrorists and is often the way that their bombs are detonated. How will you communicate with your loved ones in the event you cannot use phones, internet? Bottom line, you need to have a plan!"

That is a chilling thought if, in fact, it is true. If the U.S. Government restricts cell phone access to the general public, there would be no way to contact loved ones, family members, etc. One of the first things I would want to do is contact my wife, Pat, KB3MCT, and our kids to let them know I was OK. Since cell phones are the prefered means of communications for everyone, being denied this communications medium would definitely pose a problem. 

Personel Note: Several years ago, at a New Year's Eve party, Pat and I tried to contact our kids to wish them a Happy New Year via our cellphones. The local sites were inundated with such a high volume of calls that we could not get hold of any of our kids for several hours! This quickly brought us to the realization that cellphones have a definite weakness: in times of high volume use, the sites overload and calls are not put through or are dropped altogether. Similar things occured during the terrorist attacks of 9-11. Cellular phones were  totally unusable in the New York City area during and immediately after the attack. 

Enter Ham Radio! That's right....good old Ham Radio...."When all else fails......." and all that. There is a wide selection of small handheld transceivers (HTs) on the market today that offer dual band (VHF & UHF) ham band coverage in addition to FM commercial outlets, EMS and FIRE frequencies (for those places that are not on a digital trunked system) along with FRS/GMRS channels, and VHF air-band. The cost: $40 and up! That's right....thanks to our Chinese friends you can pick up an FCC type approved dual band HT for around $40 or so. These marvels of miniaturized communications offer several hundred memory channels and can be programmed with all sorts of frequencies in addition to the local repeater splits in your area. They are smaller than a pack of cigarettes and have a good battery life. Slip one of these little babies in your pocket and you will have instant back up comm in the event you are caught without cellphone coverage.

This is one more reason to become "radio active" and get that Technician class Ham Radio license. For all you Ham Radio old timers (OTs), pick up a small HT and keep it on your person. Let the government shut down cell phone sites, we have V/UHF FM along with very robust local repeater systems through out the US! 

That's all for now. I have got to go recharge my Bao Feng HTs! 
Vy 73
Rich K7SZ        

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