Many of our members are Amateur Radio Operators. Many interested in our group are as well. We have been asked by both members and perspective members why we use GMRS. It boils down to this. HAM radio is great. It’s a great resource and we all love it, but it’s not for everyone. Some people don’t have the knowledge, skill, or desire to get a HAM license. We of course encourage everyone to get one, and will help in any way we can. But GMRS is a great alternative.
GMRS is a paid license, not an earned. You simply pay your money and fill out a form and you have a license. To become a HAM, you must take a test and learn a lot of information. It also is a great resource because one license covers your whole family for 10 years.
Once licensed it’s quite similar to the HAM resources we use locally. We can put up repeaters, we can use 50 watt mobiles, we can even use CTCSS/PL Tones.
We do everything we can to include all of our members in everything we do. Communications is a large part of our mission, but we want to be as versatile with those communications as we can be. We us other methods as well.
It’s important to note though, that you must have a license to use GMRS. The rules have changed a lot lately, but there are rules which must be followed. Some like to demean GMRS as something for kids or something that which is on the fringe of legality or even that it is a lessor method of communication. HAMs (myself being one) can be stuck up at times toward other methods of communication such as GMRS, FRS, CB, etc. Our group frowns on this mentality. We try to practice and teach all methods, because in a true emergency, you never know what you might need to use.
In a true emergency you use what is available and has the best chance of getting through to deliver your message. All bands will be crowded in an emergency. Each has it’s power restrictions as well as limitations based on frequencies.