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Author Topic: Basic training for EMCOM or ARES  (Read 2528 times)

Posts: 1

« on: January 08, 2018, 02:56:25 PM »

This is my very first post to EHam. Although I have had my license for over 20 years, I took a break from the hobby for lack of funds for radios, lack of time (due to family), and 2m VHF was acting like CB.
Now I am retired and I want to get back into things. I have 2m gear, primarily mobile, and have helped out on a couple public events, like bicycle rallies.
One big change I see after 20 years is 2m is no longer like CB; on the contrary, it seems like no one wants to talk. So I am trying to find events to participate in that I would operate more often.
EmCom seems like a path to take, but there seems to be a lot of training and instruction from both ARRL and FEMA so that one can get viable credentials.
So, where does one start out to get ARES and/or EmCom training?


Posts: 418

« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2018, 03:12:31 PM »

Our ARES group (San Diego County, CA)  requires that all members take the following FEMA courses:  ICS 100, 200.b, 700.a and 800.b.  These are the basic introductory courses for the Incident Command system and the National Incident Management System.  Since we support local hospitals, we also are required to have periodic training in HIPAA.

Because I am the ARES Public Information Officer and Section Public Information Coordinator, I also took the ARRL PR 101 course.

Contact your local ARES group and see what kind of training they require.

Posts: 1202

« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2018, 06:57:25 AM »

By the way, the FEMA course are free online. They can be a cure for insomnia, though.


Posts: 48

« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2018, 10:32:31 AM »

Tip--Google St Clair County Emergency Management Agency  (EMA), and St Clair County ARES.  There are some phone numbers listed that can get you on your way. It looks like the EMA sponsors a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) which may or may not incorporate ham radio.  Give both organizations a call and see where you might fit in best as a volunteer.


Posts: 74


« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2018, 04:11:52 AM »

First of all, take FEMS NIMS / ICS courses IS-100, 200, 700 & 800. That way you will have an understanding on how an emergency operates. Also, most EMAs and others require those courses to participate. They are all online, and free.

Second, join some type of EMCOMM group that is involved with your local EMA, preferably one that answers to the local Emergency Manager. That way you most likely will be covered by liability insurance when you are called out. (Ask and make sure that will happen. Also, know the "Good Samaritan" laws in your state.)

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER self deploy. Wait until you get the call, then follow instructions exactly as given. If you are placed on standby at home, expect you could be called at any time, which may mean 8 hours later, 12 hours later, 24 hours later, etc. Good emergency managers know how to schedule responders so that they have fresh people every so often.

Most EMAs will provide your training for free. They only thing you will be out is your gas to get there and your time. TAKE IT! It is geared around what you will be doing for them.

Get on the air and operate. Participate in nets and learn how to be a net control station. Learn how to pass traffic in voice and mixed mode nets. Learn what digital modes your local group uses and practice them.

If your area is prone to bad weather, get trained and participate in SKYWARN.

Go online and look up free EMCOMM classes. There are tons of them. Do a lot of self study.

Last but not least, make sure you are physically and mentally able and prepared to serve. Also, make sure your family is safe and provided for in an emergency. You and your family are number one, period. If you or they are not ready, do not respond, and explain that you are not able because of the need to care for your own.

I hope that helps you. Bes wishes in your endeavors.

Posts: 38

« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 12:21:00 PM »

Look for opportunities to volunteer with your equipment and training in real-world situations without the pressure of a disaster. As the weather improves your community will probably host any number of fun runs, bike rides, parades, and other activities where amateur radio support is an important logistical and safety factor. There is nothing like learning how far your HT battery will go when it runs down. Oops.

These are also important team building exercises where you get to know your team mates and they know you.

Posts: 823

« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2018, 11:25:54 AM »

 The reason behind all the new training and standards is pretty simple, and effective. If everyone responding to an emergency starts with the same uniform training and uniform procedures, you can mesh with other people from other groups and, surprise, you find out that you can work with strangers without any "What's that mean?" roadblocks. IT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE.

 The ARES training got formalized maybe 15 years ago, with the ARRL's "ARECS" (sp?) training series, which were offered free online with mentoring for a while. The simple goal being not to force things on anyone, but to ensure that there were common standards for interoperability. ARES chapters and clubs used to--and sometimes still do--teach & practice the same things, but having a standard course and credential means that when you show up and say "I have xyz" the guy assigning operators can be reasonably sure you can do the job.

 And the FEMA credentials are for the same purpose. The whole national FEMA program is based on being able to take people from anywhere, throw them anywhere, and have them understand how to work together. If you show up after an earthquake and someone tells you "report to the incident command center" and you say "Huh? What's that?" you have a problem. Taking the basic ICS courses (even just ICS 100 and 200) will familiarize you with the terms and the structure, and even if you don't memorize it, enough will stick to make things more familiar. That has now expanded to ICS 100/200/700/800 in a lot of cases, but the material is pretty easy to swallow. The online courses from FEMA are FREE. Local training classes usually are FREE. There's no one keeping a record of how you are doing or how long it takes you to get through, and you'd really have to work at failing in order not to complete any one of them.

 Just remember, *when* the New Madrid fault shifts, or *when* the next big quake hits San Francisco, or *when* whatever major disaster happens, that's when all of this may pay off. Because the last thing anyone needs, is a thousand volunteers showing up, each with their own standards and practices. The FEMA systems aren't perfect, but they do work on improving them, and they do give us all a common ground to work from.

 And did I mention, they're FREE and you really can't fail?

Posts: 3570

« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2018, 01:54:00 PM »

You may want to check REACT.

Posts: 46

« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2018, 03:55:57 PM »

Some great advise up top- mine differs: you need to find a team.

You're not going to do much of anything on your own-nor are you going to do much without a served agency. Find out who's doing what locally, see if they look like they're someone you can support, then dive in. Take the training they ask you to, get the gear their SOP's require, and go have fun.

Suggestion: don't go unless asked, do what you're asked to do (provided you're trained for it) and when done go home.

Good luck, have fun!
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