Amateur radio clearly has a friend at the top of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In a speech at an FCC forum on earthquake communications preparedness in early May, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate listed amateur radio as one of four broad areas, "all equally important," that are critical to the mission of meeting the needs of disaster survivors. The other three are public safety communications, broadcast radio and TV, and personal wireless communications.
Calling hams "the ultimate backups" and "our last line of defense," Fugate noted how amateur radio often provides the first communications out of stricken areas, "getting the word out in the critical first hours and first days as the rest of the systems come back up." There is a tendency, he said, to dismiss hams because our other communication systems generally are very reliable and "that we can never fathom that they'll fail. They do. They have. They will." He urged including "a strong amateur radio community" in emergency planning because, "when you need amateur radio, you really need 'em."