One of the reasons that amateur radio exists at all is to provide emergency communications. Part §97.1, the very first section of the rules and regulations that govern amateur radio states that one of the bases of amateur radio is, “Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.”
Amateur radio operators take this responsibility very seriously. Each year, many amateur radio operators step up to assist a number of “served agencies” with public service and emergency communications. This includes local events, such as helping out your town’s CERT team search for a missing person; statewide events, such as providing communications during a wildfire; and international events, such as helping international aid groups coordinate their efforts after a hurricane or tsunami.
A Technician Class license and a willingness to serve is all that’s required to get started in public service and emergency communications. Once you obtain your amateur radio license, the next step is to join a CERT team or a local amateur radio emergency communications organization, such as a local amateur radio club, the local chapter of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), or the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES). They will be able to advise you on what equipment to purchase and what training is required and available to become a valuable emergency communicator.