Our customer is the Indianapolis Office of the National Weather Service and our mission is to protect the lives and property of Hoosiers.
Does it sound unusual to refer to a Federal agency, supported by tax money, as a customer? Normally most people would consider a Federal agency, as a servant to the public, and ultimately that is true. However in the case of the SKYWARN spotter, the NWS is the customer and to be successful, severe weather spotters must view the relationship in that way. If not, then the relationship can become strained causing an increased risk to life and property, which is unacceptable. This is why the SKYWARN program must be a structured approach and depends heavily on the cooperation of each local county operation. The present structure of the Central Indiana SKYWARN Association operation is based on the merits of the Incident Command Structure used everyday by many public service agencies with great success.
There are many new modes and facets to amateur radio that seem to be a good idea for emergency operations. However don't forget that a microphone is sold with just about every radio and not every amateur radio operator is interested in laptops, PDA's, or other modes. When you consider the speed and ferocity in the development of severe weather, it is crucial that information be relayed immediately without delay. Telephone and power lines are highly susceptible to high winds contained in severe thunderstorms. Any reliance on modes of emergency communications that depends on these utilities to be intact during severe weather events is risky.
The Central Indiana SKYWARN program has one very simple, yet complex, goal, and that is to protect the lives and property of fellow Hoosiers. Very few hobbies allow the participant to have such an impact on the lives of their neighbors. It is of little consequence whether this occurs in the heat of the day or in the middle of the night. To the SKYWARN spotter, community service takes on an added significance.
The SKYWARN spotter is a unique individual whose ultimate reward is simply community service. Not only do they provide a measure of protection for their neighbors but for their family as well. This is one reason why many leave their families and venture out into harm's way to provide this essential service. The SKYWARN spotter is a professionally-trained volunteer. The amateur radio SKYWARN spotter is prohibited from any type of compensation by Federal Communications Commission Part 97 rules governing amateur radio.