...The most important thing for the volunteer is to show up
Actually, one of the important things is for volunteers to be trained ahead of time and know who to
report to, what to do, and for the served agencies to know how to work with, and what to expect
from, the ham operators.
My motto is, "If you don't use it regularly, it won't work in an emergency." That applies not only
to skills and equipment, but also to inter-agency relationships. In the middle of an emergency
is NOT the time to try to introduce yourself to a served agency and learn how they work - it
is too much work at a time when they are already stretched to the limit.
I've seen this both from the ham side and from the perspective of a Served Agency. Who are you
going to report to? What equipment will you be expected to have with you? What qualifications
do you need to have to accompany a field team? What type of traffic will you be passing and
to whom? What protocols will the rest of the hams be using? What logs do you have to keep?
Where do you fit in the Incident Command System? How are ham operators allocated to meet
the highest priority needs of multiple agencies?
So, yes, it is important to show up. But to be effective it is important to be prepared and
trained and familiar with the needs and procedures of the agencies you are going to serve
and the other hams you are going to be communicating with. All of that should be done
BEFORE there is an emergency.