ARES is an acronym for "Amateur Radio Emergency Service", an arm of the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), composed of volunteer Amateur Radio operators interested in serving their communities, state, or nation in the event of an emergency. Although ARES is the creation of the ARRL, it is not required that you be an ARRL member to participate.
ARRL is recognized nationally as "THE" amateur radio communications organization. ARES has agreements with the Federal, State, and many local governments as well as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to provide assistance upon request.
While there are other ways to be involved in emergency communications through direct affiliation with NGOs like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, or RACES (a government sponsored program), ARES has the broadest range of potential opportunities for service in the event of an emergency.
ARES has a certain amount of recognition merely by being affiliated with the ARRL, but also because it promotes additional education and training of its members. In recent years national, state, and local emergency response agencies have adopted standardized practices. Non-governmental organizations, including ARES, were expected to adopt these practices as well, and have. These new practices, standardized over the years by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are available for free for anyone to take. We'll be discussing these courses next week.
In addition to the FEMA courses, there are also ARRL "EC" courses available. There are three levels: EC-001, which is an entry level course designed for an operator who may deploy, EC-002 for those who may lead at the county or district level, and EC-003 for those who would lead at the district or state level. There's also a new "EM" course, designed for those who aspire to state and national level leadership.
Generally, to be utilized as an emergency communications resource at the local level, all that is required are a few of the free FEMA courses. Again, we'll cover these next week.
In addition to being involved locally, it's possible that you might be called up to support ARES members in other parts of the state or even other states. There were out-of-state call-ups of trained operators during hurricanes Katrina and Ivan.
The next several presentations will cover how to become a member of ARES, take the free FEMA courses, other ways to serve in Amateur Radio, and various protocols and practices useful for service in ARES.
As we’ve previously discussed, Amateur Radio Emergency Communications has changed from the days where a very informal response among a specialized group of technical individuals could provide support in an emergency in an improvised way.
The changes in how we are expected to respond are largely the result of the evolution of emergency response organizations within the government and without.As previously mentioned, many organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and even the government itself, have created their own communications teams comprised of Amateur Radio operators who meet their requirements.
Organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army are about providing direct aid during and following an emergency. Communications is one small component of that overall mission. So, within the Red Cross, for instance, the communications team members are Red Cross volunteers who happen to be Amateur Radio operators, not the other way around.
Two distinct events combined to turn my mind to emergency preparedness. September 11th, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina. One mass-murder by warriors of Islam and the other mass destruction caused by nature and made worse by incompetence in local government. In either case, they are examples of why we should be better prepared for the unexpected so we can ride it an emergency while our neighbors and local, state, & national governments work to restore normalcy to our lives.
September 11, 2001 returned my mind to thoughts of emergency preparedness and my early emergency response training. But, as is often the case, I lapsed into a "maybe I'll do something next week" line of thought. Well, at least I was thinking about it.
Most entities ARES will support utilize a standardized command structure call the "Incident Command System". The Incident Command System, usually referred to as ICS, is designed to be scalable for emergencies ranging from a car wreck to a hurricane. The purpose of the standardized ICS is so that the various government agencies and non-government organizations, often referred to NGOs, all understand the chain of command and the various positions within the system.
FEMA offers a series of free on-line courses so volunteers, police, firemen, and local government officials can easily learn, demonstrate proficiency, and get certified as being proficient in a variety of area.
ARES, like many NGOs (including the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and others), has committed to requiring their volunteers to have various levels of FEMA course certifications before being deployed. The requirements are usually fairly minimal for most ARES volunteers, requiring only the introductory certifications to participate in support positions.
Those participating in more direct participation with a served entity may require more training. For instance, Hospital Teams or those who will deploy to areas affected by Hurricanes or other disasters will usually be required to have additional certifications. That being said, each of these courses are usually not beyond the ability of a typical volunteer to complete within a day.
So, what courses would an ARES volunteer want to take? The first one, IS-100: Introduction to the Incident Command System, provides a basic level of understanding of what the Incident Command Systems is, what the command structure looks like, and how we would fit into the system. In addition to that, it is recommended that the volunteer take IS-200: ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents. These two courses will usually suffice to function as an entry level ARES volunteer, operating as a net control station, shelter volunteer, and as a message traffic handler.
To deploy to served agencies such as to local Emergency Operations Centers, hospitals, and those locations more directly involved in dealing with the physical emergency will usually be required to additionally take IS-700 and IS-800 as well. Again, each of these courses can be completed within a day.
Once you have your Student ID you can go to the course list page (https://training.fema.gov/is/crslist.aspx) and select the course you'd like to take. Once you've gone through the course material you can take an open-book type test, and receive your certificate via email. The certificates are PDF and can be printed.
Carroll ARES volunteers are asked to forward the certificates to me as you complete them so I can update the state ARES database.
We’ve discussed EMCOMM organizations in the past, so I’ll just remind everyone that while ARES is rapidly becoming the most prevalent EMCOMM organization there are others include RACES, SATERN, MARS, SHARES and REACT.
· RACES: Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. Normally setup and administered by local or state Emergency Management Agencies.
· SATERN: Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network. Amateur Radio Operators who are also volunteers with the Salvation Army operate this network.
· MARS: Military Affiliate Radio Service. This is a Department of Defense sponsored communications program managed by the Army, Navy, and Air Force.