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Author Topic: ARES and RACES one organization in VA  (Read 2386 times)
KO1D
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« on: July 05, 2008, 09:57:06 AM »

With the signing of a new MOU between the VA Section of the ARRL and VDEM ARES and RACES are again 1 organization in VA. For more information:

http://aresva.org/

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W3JKS
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2008, 10:56:36 AM »

It's nice to see that the various groups are pulling in the same direction.  I certainly hope that VA RACES doesn't shutdown their website, though - their training material is some of the best around!

73,
john
W3JKS/AAT3BF/AAA9SL
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KF4URY
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2008, 03:25:13 PM »

I agree 110% on the websites materials, always full of good info.  
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K2GW
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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2008, 02:19:10 PM »

WooHoo!  Congratulations to all of those who obviously worked hard to put the needs of the public ahead of self.  

Combined Amateur Radio EmComm organizations are by far the best way to deploy our always limited resources to the exact point where they are most needed by the public at the moment. I'm glad to see the folks in Virginia have joined the fold of the many states that have done so.

And I, too, hope that the wonderful Virgina RACES training pages and materials continued to be available to all EmComm oriented hams across the nation.  We've used them a lot up here.


73

Gary Wilson, K2GW
Section Emergency Coordinator
Southern New Jersey Section
American Radio Relay League
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KO1D
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« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2008, 02:42:38 PM »

Yes this is indeed good news. VA RACES is NOT I repeat NOT a Commonwealth RACES organization. In some parts of the Commonwealth they are recognized only in that jurisdiction as being a RACES component exactly as in others there are ARES units in that role, unaffiliated clubs or Auxiliary Communications Services. Otherwise they are a CLUB, actually a non-profit organization by their own legal documents as noted in the FCC correspondence some months back.

That being said I have taken the training and it is very good stuff. I agree much can be learned by all hams by taking the training people like Ed Harris, KE4SKY has put together. This is a prime example of how Amateurs can be Professionals.

Dan S
KO1D/3
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KE4SKY
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2008, 12:01:34 PM »

Web page is being reworked. In the meantime you can access the training files at:

www.w4ava.org/legacy

Click on RACES training…the PPTs and sound files should be there and accessible. Please remember this is copyrighted material and follow the use rules.  
       
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KE4SKY
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2008, 07:20:05 AM »

VALUE OF VIRGINIA MOU QUESTIONABLE

Recently the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) executed a memorandum of understanding with the American Radio Relay League stating that ARES members must register with VDEM, and that registration certifies those hams under RACES.

There is neither any legal basis for requiring registration nor any statutory basis to support VDEM’s assertion that the state has the authority to deploy or supervise federally licensed Amateur Radio operators within a local jurisdiction.

Further, during a teleconference in August between Arlington County officials, including the RACES officers and VDEM staff, VDEM was unable to explain the rationale behind the VDEM automatic RACES certification and admitted that they consulted not one county RACES official in the entire state of Virginia.

Arlington County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) director Bob Griffin stated that OEM will recognize only RACES members who have been vetted through his
office and cleared by Sheriff’s Office background checks.
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KO1D
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2008, 01:03:39 PM »

Glad to see Arlington is being arrogant and anti-everything as always. Sorry that apparently David and Ed cannot read the rules:

§97.407 Radio amateur civil emergency service.

(a) No station may transmit in RACES unless it is an FCC-licensed primary, club, or military recreation station and it is certified by a civil defense organization as registered with that organization, or it is an FCC-licensed RACES station. No person may be the control operator of a RACES station, or may be the control operator of an amateur station transmitting in RACES unless that person holds a FCC-issued amateur operator license and is certified by a civil defense organization as enrolled in that organization.


So I guess VDEM is no longer a civil defense association. And since all operators are registering with it per its stated rules and regulations, in this case filing out an on line database, they also do not meeet the requirements.

Hmm wonder if the Governor knows this?

Dan S
KO1D
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KE4SKY
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« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2008, 05:38:25 AM »

Dan,

VDEM is not conducting background checks on ARES people it registers. There is nothing in this process to include convicted felons, etc. Convicted felons in ARES have already been excluded by the background check process. It is still necessary for local governments and NGOs to conduct these.

This issue isn't going to go away.  
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KO1D
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2008, 06:53:36 AM »

Ed,

#1 I shall restate I have no issue with background checks before we get off track. Been through them enough to keep everyone in gov't happy for years to come I'd imagine.

However,

So far as the requirements set forth by the FCC for operations in the RACES Service all criteria has been met. These individuals who sign up at the database are meeting the requirements established by VDEM, the responsible civil defense agency, for what it takes to be a RACES station. Should the Commonwealth pass a law stating all volunteers for disaster or emergency agencies require said checks then yes then it becomes a requirement. Then, depending on how that is set up, either VSP or local county law enforcement would handle that check and it would be recognized within the Commonwealth as being valid. Anyone who meets basic standards for "passing" the check then would be meet this new requirement and again be recognized as a certified (bad legal word I am sure) RACES station operator per the FCC rules on the RACES SERVICE.

Running away from the system and stomping your feet in anger that the MOU exists is not the answer. The answer is simply asking your elected officials to draft and pass legislation requiring all disaster volunteers pass a criminal background check conducted by VSP as part of the indoctrination process. At some point Arlington Public Service Club (The last vestige of RACES,INC. because of egos in that one club nothing more) has to start playing nice with the neighbors whether it likes it or not. It is a lot easier to make changes from within a system as part of a team than from without and crying foul all the time. People just stop caring what you think after a while and when you need help, people just won't come.

Dan S
KO1D
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KE4SKY
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2008, 07:28:14 AM »

It appears that weak ARES leadership has lead to conflagulation which is undermining the ARES/RACES MOU. They are turning on themselves.  This is progress?
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K2GW
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« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2008, 07:47:11 AM »

Just a suggestion from someone who is both an ARES official and a RACES operator in my own state. For the benefit of the Amateur Radio Service as a whole, please take these arguments offline and work them out there.

It doesn't do anything to help promote the use of Amateur Radio in an emergency by posting them here and making us look silly.

Thanks & 73

Gary Wilson, K2GW
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W8BNL
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« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2009, 10:33:18 AM »

"posts making us look silly" heck we can do that without posts Gary. (WOOHOO???) Of all the responders to this post, you certainly should know of the importance of the separation between ARES & RACES. I believe that they can coexist and utilize each others resources (albeit sort of one-way given the stated facts as to with whom a RACES Operator/Station may communicate during a RACES roll-out). ARES is ARRL and RACES is FEMA. Since 9-11, FEMA & Homeland Security have taken the roles of managing disasters and such (also the funding for local and state governments emergency programs). The Radio Amateurs who respond to the need for communications in such events, MUST comply with FEMA rules and regulations. All "volunteers" whether RACES, ARES, Red Cross or Salvation Army must have the same certifications on file or they will not be allowed to assist. That sounds like there is no gray area to that one. I am not against ARES participating in disaster events and drill. But as things have changed here in America and the Federal Government has mandated new rules and regulations, the choice (for me anyway) is simple. Either comply with the requirements or stay home. If ever (God Forbid) The President's Emergency War Powers should be enacted, it will be the RACES Certified Amateurs who will still have limited radio capabilities, while the remainder of amateurs will be silenced.
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K2GW
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« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2009, 02:17:45 PM »

One more time, RACES is not an organization, nor controlled by FEMA.  It is a standby radio service provided for in Part 97.407 of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules,

The concept of a standby "Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service" to replace the conventional "Amateur Radio Service" during wartime was developed in 1952 as result of input from the American Radio Relay League and the Department of the Army's Office of Civil Defense. During World War II, the Amateur Radio Service had been silenced and a new War Emergency Radio Service (WERS) had to be created from scratch in a process that took six months. The resulting standby RACES service was designed to provide a quicker and smoother transition in the event the President ever needed to silence the regular Amateur Radio Service again when invoking the War Powers Act. Ironically, despite four wars involving the United States since 1952, this has never happened.

When so activated, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service will consist of only those amateur radio operators who have previously registered with State and local governments to provide emergency radio communications for them in times of emergency. Other amateur radio operations would be suspended and operations under the RACES rules might be restricted to certain frequencies within the amateur radio bands.
In the past, actual RACES station licenses were also issued to civil defense organizations. To prevent abuse of station licenses by officials who weren't licensed amateur radio operators, limitations on the duration of non-emergency operation and stations that might be contacted were incorporated into part 97.407. Such RACES station licenses are no longer issued and any operations under the RACES rules would now use licensed amateur radio operators as control operators.

In daily practice, most amateur radio operators enrolled with their local government for possible operations under the RACES rules are also members of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, organized by the American Radio Relay League. ARES provides emergency communications in the conventional Amateur Radio Service without the need for an emergency declaration from the government.

Whenever possible, combined ARES/RACES organizations (such as we have in New Jersey) with the county OEM Radio Officer also serving as the County ARES EC provide the flexibility described in the ARRL PSCM Section 4.3 below.  This gives one combined pool of trained Amateur Radio EmComm operators who can be deployed to where the need is greatest and avoids wasted effort over turf wars.

As a result, over the past fifty years, state OEM, County OEM’s and Red Cross chapters have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in amateur radio equipment for permanent stations in the state EOC, every County EOC and in virtually all of the Red Cross chapters.  This equipment is tested monthly to prove that all of the EOC’s and served agencies can talk to each other over 3 different Amateur Bands using both voice and digital modes.  

I’d love to hear of another state that can show such a record lasting decades.  And I doubt they can do it with folks not working with each other and insisting that "my organization is bigger than yours"

73
Gary Wilson, K2GW

-----------------
4.3 ARES and RACES
Although RACES and ARES are separate entities, the ARRL advocates dual membership and cooperative efforts between both groups whenever possible for an ARES group whose members are all enrolled in and certified by RACES to operate in an emergency with great flexibility. Using the same operators and the same frequencies, an ARES group also enrolled as RACES can "switch hats" from ARES to RACES and RACES to ARES to meet the requirements of the situation as it develops.

For example, during a "nondeclared emergency," ARES can operate under ARES, but when an emergency or disaster is officially declared by a state or federal authority, the operation can become RACES with no change in personnel or frequencies.

This situation is still not well understood and accepted throughout the United States; both ARES and RACES still exist, separately, in many areas. League officials will have to determine the situation in their own area. Where there is currently no RACES, it would be a simple matter for an ARES group to enroll in that capacity, after a presentation to the civil-preparedness authorities.

In cases where both ARES and RACES exist, it is possible to join both or to be involved in either. As time progresses, the goal would be the merger into one strong organization, with coordination between ARES and RACES officials using the same groups of amateurs. In some sections of the US today, the ARES structure has also been accepted as the RACES structure.
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N4ASX
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« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2009, 10:27:53 AM »

Lots of good stuff from all sides.

In Alexandria, we drafted a local MOU with the City of Alexandria because our friends in Arlingotn ARES were advising the City EMS coordinator that he needed to dump the ARES organization and invite Arlington RACES to fill the need.

Alexandria ARES has been supporting the city for over 50 years and have not had ONE complaint with the exception of our being one person short for a CERT drill and the use of that drill to test some of our systems and TTPs.  This has been addressed not with the lead CERT volunteer but with the City EMS and is cleared up.

What I DEEPLY resent is the dishonesty of those who want to provide an alternative source of volunteers for a given community.  

I am, for now, the ARES EC in Alexandria,  I hold DoD clearances FAR in excess of anything the city requests, but I have and my volunteers have all been background checked by the city in conformance with FEDERAL LAW.

That our friends in Arlington RACES will not recognize Alexandria's background check and require their own check is to reject mutual support.

If RACES is to represent the local government then by all means they can represent the needs of THAT local entity, but to exclude volunteers or to undermine the local ARES organization is at best counter productive and at worst deprives the local entity of "TRAINED and MOTIVATED amateur radio operators and the hard feelings created tends to discourage mutual aid.

We have very few EMERGENCIES in northern VA, but we all need to train together and we need to not bring our "differences" before the folks we try to support.

73 Rick Bunn / N4ASX
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