A national group of communications volunteers will next week (25 November 2013) mark its formation 60 years ago in the aftermath of the east coast flood disaster.
The Radio Amateurs’ Emergency Network (RAYNET) was formed on 25 November 1953 after the east coast floods that year that saw the loss of 307 lives. An earlier attempt to establish a volunteer emergency communications service had been rejected by the Government in 1950.
Ever since, RAYNET volunteers have been active or on standby countless times, including the 1988 Lockerbie air disaster, the 2009 Cumbria floods and more recently the storm of 28/29 October 2013.
RAYNET is able to provide vital communications for emergency responders when existing communications networks fail or become overloaded – as is often the case in disaster situations – or help diverse emergency response agencies communicate with each other.
Today there are around 2,000 RAYNET volunteers, who are mostly licenced radios amateurs (radio ‘hams’). Local RAYNET groups cover the majority of the country.
RAYNET Chairman Cathy Clark said: “The east coast flood of 1953 was a terrible disaster but it precipitated the creation of a group of communications volunteers which, despite advances in technology, is needed now more than ever. With our current unpredictable climate and the high risk of failure of modern communications networks RAYNET volunteers can make a crucial difference.”