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Author Topic: EmComm elitists are the major problem in EmComm  (Read 22810 times)
AC2Q
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Posts: 348




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« on: October 26, 2011, 05:49:34 PM »

As sure as Night follows Day, whenever ANYONE posts a Curiosity question about EmComm, one or more of a small group of self-righteous elitists chimes in with statements such as:

"The fact that you must ask this question suggests that you are not involved with EmCom in our community and that you are uninformed and unprepared."

Good job Jackwagon, I see the Volunteers lining up right now.

CONSTRUCTIVELY speaking, it's a matter of 8-10 hours of online training, and maintaining an ongoing affiliation with an EmComm group, solely so they know who they can depend on when needed.

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LA9XSA
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Posts: 376




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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2011, 06:33:26 AM »

"There are lots of free training resources available to learn.  I would first recommend contacting the volunteer coordinator of your local office of emergency management and inquire what existing volunteer programs use amateur radio communications.  Examples would be Auxiliary Communications Service or RACES, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Medical Reserve Corps, Neighborhood Watch, etc.  Then you can join a group which fits into your interests, knowledge, skills and abilities.  There is something that everyone can do. "

Sounds constructive, right? Yet it's from the same post by KE4SKY that you quoted from, and he didn't introduce any namecalling.

Here's the thread in question - it contains some interesting perspectives on what, if any, training a volunteer needs: http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,44900.0.html
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K1CJS
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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2011, 06:56:15 AM »

....CONSTRUCTIVELY speaking, it's a matter of 8-10 hours of online training, and maintaining an ongoing affiliation with an EmComm group, solely so they know who they can depend on when needed.

With respects, these days, depending on the group you want to associate with, there can be a lot more than just a few hours training and an occasional meeting.  Especially if that group is involved with any first response work with government entities that mandate certain training.  It's been a while since I was involved with anything like that, but I believe that certain Emergency Managemant groups mandate continual training and mandatory exercises every three to six months, AND identity /criminal checks be done at joining and regular intervals after that.

That is why I stopped participating.  To me, it just wasn't worth the hassle anymore.  Volunteering is one thing, while mandated training and uncompensated expenses to maintain association/membership is quite another.

You certainly are correct in saying that that is all some groups require, but those groups usually are informal groups that may occasionally be asked to lend assistance to more structured agencies and groups.
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W0TLP
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Posts: 83




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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2011, 08:56:47 AM »

EmComm should be considered a method of operating, not an activity. The method can be used to perform a service for an agency or it can be used just to keep up our skills of self-sufficient operations.

We shouldn't think of EmComm as ARES or RACES or SKYWARN. Those are groups that use EmComm methods, but isn't EmComm also just a guy who decided to set up a battery-powered station just to see what he could do in that sort of situation?

EmComm folks have all sorts of reasons for being involved with this aspect of amateur radio. For some it's a formal thing: official affiliation, official ID card, official SKYWARN logo, etc. For others it's just a challenge to see what they can do off the grid and with parts they had in the garage.

As for the training and background checks: those are requirements of the served agencies, so many groups that offer services to those agencies require the training and checks to be listed as a deployable volunteer. It's the agencies driving it, not ARES or the ARRL.

The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA require NIMS and ICS training of all agencies that wish to participate in federal assistance programs. Perhaps it makes us uncomfortable but it makes sense. One of the biggest communications failures of 9/11 wasn't the elimination of the grid but the inability of multiple organizations to effectively communicate due to lack of technical interoperability and difference in radio lingo. Homeland Security Presidential Directives 5 & 8 were established to help address those issues, among many others.

Effective mitigation of an incident requires that all those participating be operating under the same umbrella, with the same incident action plan. The only way to ensure that is to have a singular system (the National Incident Management System) with a singular command structure (Incident Command System). This includes communications so, amateur radio operators who wish to volunteer their services to assist agencies need to have that training. The same holds true for people who want to volunteer as firefighters, EMTs, hospital workers, disaster assistance workers, etc.

If a ham doesn't want to go through that training, fine. He or she can still be involved in EmComm and is still a valuable resource. Shunning hams who dig EmComm just because they aren't affiliated with an ARES group or just because they don't understand message handling or NVIS is just unfriendly.

No ham is "more EmComm" than another just because he has  completed FEMA's Independent Study courses and passed a background check.

All hams should be welcome in all aspects of radio, but there are some situations that require more than a license to participate.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2011, 09:25:31 AM by KD0KVV » Logged
KO3D
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2011, 06:42:00 PM »

I've yet to see the connection between handing out water cups at marathons and emergency communications, yet that's what ARES seems interested in. Others just want badges, orange vests and magnetic signs on their car doors, no different from fire police or ambulance corps volunteers.
We've all seen the guy at the local ham club with three HTs, a Sam Browne belt and load bearing suspenders stocked with emergency supplies in case a disaster breaks out during the construct a J pole slideshow. I get the feeling most of these emcomm groups are created to keep hams out of the way when an emergency happens. Being prepared for an emergency (off the grid, regular comms are down etc.) needs to be separated from joining a public safety wannabe group. If the stuff hits the fan I'd rather be home taking care of my family than being assigned to sit at the tertiary alternate comms center brewing coffee.


....CONSTRUCTIVELY speaking, it's a matter of 8-10 hours of online training, and maintaining an ongoing affiliation with an EmComm group, solely so they know who they can depend on when needed.

With respects, these days, depending on the group you want to associate with, there can be a lot more than just a few hours training and an occasional meeting.  Especially if that group is involved with any first response work with government entities that mandate certain training.  It's been a while since I was involved with anything like that, but I believe that certain Emergency Managemant groups mandate continual training and mandatory exercises every three to six months, AND identity /criminal checks be done at joining and regular intervals after that.

That is why I stopped participating.  To me, it just wasn't worth the hassle anymore.  Volunteering is one thing, while mandated training and uncompensated expenses to maintain association/membership is quite another.

You certainly are correct in saying that that is all some groups require, but those groups usually are informal groups that may occasionally be asked to lend assistance to more structured agencies and groups.
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NA0AA
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Posts: 1043




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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2011, 02:41:19 PM »

I think the quality of ones EMCOMM experience has a lot to do with location.  It seems to me that places that experience regular disasters have better systems in place because their people actually get to do things from time to time...other than do communications for bike rides.

In other communities, the groups are so little utilized that there is little point in them even existing at all.

I personally tired of the DHS/FEMA Bull, so I've discontinued my participation as an active member of our organization and will let my "Offical ID" lapse when it expires - our county cant even staff the EOC anymore, the "Professionals" keep quitting when they discover that being an EOC director involves a lot of doing absolutely nothing, and for years on end.

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K1CJS
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« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2011, 09:44:29 AM »

I've yet to see the connection between handing out water cups at marathons and emergency communications, yet that's what ARES seems interested in. Others just want badges, orange vests and magnetic signs on their car doors, no different from fire police or ambulance corps volunteers.
We've all seen the guy at the local ham club with three HTs, a Sam Browne belt and load bearing suspenders stocked with emergency supplies in case a disaster breaks out during the construct a J pole slideshow. I get the feeling most of these emcomm groups are created to keep hams out of the way when an emergency happens. Being prepared for an emergency (off the grid, regular comms are down etc.) needs to be separated from joining a public safety wannabe group. If the stuff hits the fan I'd rather be home taking care of my family than being assigned to sit at the tertiary alternate comms center brewing coffee.

The connection is somewhat simple--the leaders of such groups feel that non-disaster operation is a good way to prepare for an actual disaster situation.  In a way, it is--since organization is one key to a good group, but in many ways it is not.  In a way all these "water hand out" sessions are is a way for these ham radio leaders to "puff out their feathers" and try to show what a good job they are doing--and that leads right back to the subject of this thread, since those leaders seem to be the 'elitists' that are spoken of there.


« Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 09:47:11 AM by K1CJS » Logged
ONAIR
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Posts: 1738




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« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2011, 10:24:57 AM »

I've yet to see the connection between handing out water cups at marathons and emergency communications, yet that's what ARES seems interested in. Others just want badges, orange vests and magnetic signs on their car doors, no different from fire police or ambulance corps volunteers.
We've all seen the guy at the local ham club with three HTs, a Sam Browne belt and load bearing suspenders stocked with emergency supplies in case a disaster breaks out during the construct a J pole slideshow. I get the feeling most of these emcomm groups are created to keep hams out of the way when an emergency happens. Being prepared for an emergency (off the grid, regular comms are down etc.) needs to be separated from joining a public safety wannabe group. If the stuff hits the fan I'd rather be home taking care of my family than being assigned to sit at the tertiary alternate comms center brewing coffee.


   Totally agree.  However, I must admit that placing a badge under the windshield, along with an orange vest and a big sign in the back seat, has saved me quite a bit of money on parking tickets! Smiley
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K6LCS
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« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2011, 10:53:10 AM »

REALITY SPEAKING - The vast majority of those I have seen who claim to be "emergency communicators" I would not trust at all for being able to effectively work an emergency.

For example, a recent large, annual, public event was just held and "served" by a comms group touting itself as an "emergency service" organization. Members showed up with radios not programmed properly for the event ... and not knowing how to manually program a channel once they showed up. A few members' batteries died almost immediately - and no backups were brought. A couple brought their VOX headsets: If anyone shows up at an event I am running with a VOX headset, their radio is confiscated and I will issue them one of mine, with traditional speaker-mic.

And that is from a group touting itself as "emergency communicators."

And on and on ... Yes, there are wonderful, well-trained and organized emcomm groups. But they are grossly out-numbered by irresponsibility, ineptness, and poor coordination.

Your job - in order to serve your community well - is to research and find that group that IS properly maintained. Hopefully, you will find it. If not, then you need to get the ball rolling yourself.

Clint Bradford, K6LCS
909-241-7666
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Clint Bradford, K6LCS
http://www.k6lcs.com
AI8P
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Posts: 118




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« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2011, 11:17:33 AM »

I have to disagree with some of this.

I'm an EC so I organize some of those "handing out water cups at marathons".

Why do I consider it worth doing?
1.  I know some people like to do events and don't use their HT any other time - now they and I know it works
2.  It gives my people a little practice operating on a formal net with a NCS
3.  It builds reputation and goodwill in the community - something that you can never have enough of.
4.  It builds relationship with agencies like the local police, who see you performing professionally and take note of that.  At some of our events the Police Incident Commander is listening to our net.  Gaining a relationship with the local Police and Fire is sufficient reason by itself
5.  With many annual events we have reached an agreement where our people are not at Rest Stops or Water stations, but are out on the course providing additional coverage that would  not be available without us.   To this end, I encourage the Marathon people to have their own Government radios at those stops and to use us at other locations.   I have had many many comments from the event volunteers that reporting over the radio is not as easy as it seems.   Some communications training and some increased respect for the Hams is the result.
6. and finally, I like parades and I always get a good view when I'm working them!

Your mileage may vary

Dennis
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LA9XSA
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Posts: 376




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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2011, 12:18:15 AM »

Members showed up with radios not programmed properly for the event ... and not knowing how to manually program a channel once they showed up. A few members' batteries died almost immediately - and no backups were brought.
Well thank goodness for public service events, because otherwise these problems might not have been discovered.

By the way, according to the thread-starter, you are probably an emcomm elitist for expecting the members of the group to know how to program their radios and have back-up power. You elitist!

Yes, there are wonderful, well-trained and organized emcomm groups. But they are grossly out-numbered by irresponsibility, ineptness, and poor coordination.
Citation needed. I'm perhaps being unfair by saying that, because I don't know if quantitative data exists which measures this.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2011, 05:53:48 AM »

AI8P, 

For every one of the 'responsible' leaders such as you seem to be, there are dozens of those leaders who are not.  Of those, the top ten percent or so are as I had outlined in my last post.  They don't really go for the training and the meaningful participation as much as they go for themselves--or sometimes their group (if they're forced to)--to be noticed or commended for the 'fine work' they did during the event.  No matter how much getting 'noticed' helps a group, that isn't the end all and be all of emergency communications--not by a long shot.   

Let a real, bona fide 'emergency' come their way and they would fall flat on their faces.  The civil authorities in the areas where the group is KNOW that and have known it all along--and that is why the majority of those groups are welcomed with open arms during the public service events, and shunned like the plague when the real thing comes along. 

No matter how nice it is to get acknowledgement, that reason shouldn't even be considered when setting up--or running--an emergency comms group, and it shouldn't even be in the mind of any of the group members--at all.
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AI8P
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« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2011, 09:35:55 AM »

K1CJS,

It isn't about acknowledgement as much as it is about goodwill and building relationships.

Fire professionals are very wary of "volunteers".   They already have Pro vs volunteer turf wars within the Fire regime.

Police are suspicious of all outsiders, not without reason, I might add.

The way to be accepted when the emergency happens is to already have relationships with these organizations before then.   Public service events are a great opportunity to interact with Police, Fire and government personnel.

Now if a group is as inefficient as you describe, then they will be seen for that.

If a group is prepared and professional, they will be seen by that - but only to the extent that they have interaction with these groups.   So, you could say that the better prepared your group is, the more benefit you can get from these Public service events.

As far as EmComm elitists,  it's important to have moderation in all things.   I just got my 5-Band DXCC and I'll be contesting from the Caribbean this January - EmComm is not all that Ham radio is to me.  I don't need First Responder Wannabees in my group - I need Hams who are valuable because of the wide breadth of knowledge that they bring from their varied experiences in Ham radio.

One thing I want to acknowledge is that serious contesters make excellent EmComm communicators - so I'm looking for people who aren't necessary FM-only.

Have a great day, and here's hoping that my group is never needed for the Real Thing!

Dennis
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K1CJS
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« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2011, 05:54:48 AM »

I get your point there, Dennis, but you seemed to have missed the one I tried making.  The problem with most groups that seem to have problems sometimes (quite a bit of the time, actually) lies with the leadership of the group, not the group itself.  Leaders should be in the forefront of ALL group activities, not just those that gets them notice and recognition, but there are sadly some group leaders that are there only for the notice and recognition--and the group has to take up the slack (the rest of the group mission) on their own.

Those are the groups that are not well run, and the professionals ARE wary of them--for good reason.  A good group that can get things done still needs a good leader that will 'get down in the mud' with the rest of the group, not one who looks at the mud and says "I'm not going to get my boots dirty."

73, and I echo your sentiments--here's hoping the Real Thing never rears its head!  Take care.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 05:56:28 AM by K1CJS » Logged
W0TLP
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« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2011, 06:10:34 AM »

I've yet to see the connection between handing out water cups at marathons and emergency communications, yet that's what ARES seems interested in.
[/quote]

"Real" public service agencies, such as police, fire and EMS departments, do public service events regularly. This might include traffic control, event security, first aid services, letting kids climb on fire trucks, walking around in "McGruff the Crime Dog" costumes and conducting lectures on keeping children safe. The agencies do these events because they are good public relations -- they serve the public by spreading awareness and breaking down the barriers between the public and the public service agencies.

Every time I worked a public relations event and let a kid see the tools on the truck or don my turnout gear, they went nutty with excitement. And the parents thanked all of us -- and showed that appreciation when asked to approve a bond measure or when we ended up transporting a family member to the hospital later. The fire department is respected in the community because the department showed the community respect by participating in community life.

Hams who are interested serving agencies with emergency communications do well to participate in public service such as parades, fairs, marathons, etc. These events afford hams an opportunity to work with their radios in the field, iron out kinks in systems and networks and practice the formal nature of net operations. Such activities also increase public awareness of ham radio and improve relations between hams and the agencies they hope to serve.

Teak
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