A couple of days ago I mentioned that I was a member of RAYNET. I realise that some of you may not of heard of this organisation, and so I would like to give you an insight into who we are and what we do.
RAYNET is a group of radio amateurs in the UK who are provide emergency communication services for certain agencies during an emergency. In the UK, radio amateurs are not permitted to pass third party messages except in an emergency. RAYNET evolved after the devastating east coast floods of 1953. During these floods, radio amateurs broke the terms of their licence and became heavily involved in message passing for the emergency services. Following this, the licence was changed to allow these messages, and RAYNET was formed to co-ordinate radio amateurs’ efforts.
Originally it was called RAEN (Radio Amateurs’ Emergency Network) until it was pointed out that these letters were actually the call sign of a Russian ship! So the name was change to RAYNET.
So what do we do. Our primary purpose is to supply emergency radio communications to agencies such as the Police, Fire Service, NHS Trusts, Voluntary Aid Societies (Red Cross, St John Ambulance etc) and local councils. However we also assist with training exercises for these organisations. And we also hold our own internal training exercises. We assist with things such as floods, air shows, plane crashes and general communication equipment failures. We also assist with more routine events such as marathons, horse rides and long distance hikes.
We are all volunteers, and do not receive and do not get paid for providing these services. Sometimes the organisations we have been working with make donations to the local RAYNET groups, and this can be used to either reimburse expenses or purchase equipment for use by the members. Generally, all equipment used is provided at the members expense.
So that’s a brief introduction to RAYNET.