The requirements for hospitals to have "alternative and back-up" communications come from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (now known as Joint Commission) Standards for Emergency Preparedness. The standard does not specifically require amateur radio as a means of alternative communications, but recommends any means to support emergency communication. In addition, the standard requires maintenance and testing (including drills) of the equipment on a regular basis.
The standard is comprised of recommendations from a number of organizations. Several of these reference Amateur Radio organizations such as ARRL, ARES and RACES as a source of alternative communications. Some of the reference sources for the standard include, but not limited to the following:
Presidential Directive No. 5 - Created the NIMS System
NFPA 1600 - Emergency Preparedness
Business Community Institute - Planning, Emergency Response and Operations
Disaster Institute International - Implementing Business Continuity Plans
Department of Homeland Security - Interoperability Plan
Federal Emergency Management Agency - Interoperability Plan
The Memorial Hermann Hospital System and The Methodist Hospital System are among those that have recognized the value of amateur radio and have chosen to utilize amateur radio as part of their emergency operations plan. There are one hundred plus (100+) hospitals in the region. Only a small percentage have hospital owned amateur radio stations. Many utilize private owned equipment as part of their system.
Personnel for amateur radio stations are volunteer (non-employee) operators. Most are ARES and/or Races members or members of local amateur radio clubs near their facility. This will improve somewhat if the FCC allows the American Hospital Associations request for blanket waiver for "employee operators" to be enacted.
It would be ideal to have all hospital facilities and EOC's Amateur Radio capable. In order to accomplish this, it would require a large number of licensed volunteer operators. Even though there is a sufficient number of licensed operators in the area on the FCC books, getting people to volunteer is the problem. Some facilities currently are unable to obtain operators and do not participate in amateur radio.
Hospital - Amateur Radio Tactical Calls