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Author Topic: Do served organizations really want our help?  (Read 5175 times)
N8AUC
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Posts: 643




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« Reply #30 on: June 19, 2019, 02:18:10 PM »

Yes they do.

I am currently serving as both a District EC and a county EC in Ohio ARES.
On Monday, I got called into a rather large meeting with our city EMA director about providing comms support for a very large event next month.
Our Emergency Management people appreciate the additional situational awareness by monitoring our radio traffic. In a lot of cases, we serve as
additional eyes and ears for the public safety officials.

In fact, they value us enough, that a city that is so broke they can't pay attention, came up with the money to purchase and install amateur radio
antennas on the roof of the building that contains their EOC. And they wouldn't permit us to install the antennas, they insisted on paying a
contractor to do it to our specifications. That was probably for insurance purposes.

The "secrets" to being wanted are fairly simple:
1) Take the FEMA NIMS/ICS training required.
2) Build and maintain relationships with the leadership in your served agencies.
3) Only come when you're called - never self-deploy.
4) Present yourself in a professional manner. If you want to be treated as a professional, you must look and act that way.
5) Remember that you are there to serve, not give orders and/or make demands. Conduct yourself accordingly.
6) Never "write a check that you can't cash".
    This means that when you better be able to do what you say you can do, and never make a commitment that you can't honor.

As a matter of fact, ARES support is specifically written into a few different emergency support functions in both our city and
county emergency operations plans.

So yes, our help is definitely wanted. But we're like any other tool. You use what is needed to get a specific task accomplished.
We don't get called for every little thing. We get called when we are needed, and we don't get called when we aren't.

« Last Edit: June 19, 2019, 02:24:33 PM by N8AUC » Logged
KB8VUL
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Posts: 318




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« Reply #31 on: June 20, 2019, 04:36:24 AM »

Adding to that, remember that you are a tool to the EMA or whatever agency you serve.  One tool of many, and you may or may not be used.
The other thing to realize is that you should always show up prepared, and be self sufficient. Meaning have everything including toilet paper for your use.
They may be providing lunch, but bring your own, and BRING YOUR OWN WATER /COFFEE.  Nothing shows that you are squared away and prepared as having your own water and food.
And keep it basic.  DOn't do dumb stuff like start cooking bacon and making everyone else hungry. 

Yes, if the served agency had contractors install your antennas it was a liability thing.  Any time you are working around their primary radios, there is a possibility that something could get damaged that someone would need to immediately fix.  The truth is you don't want that responsibility and you REALLY don't what to be the ones that take them off the air by accident.  I know this because I AM one of those contractors.  I have installed and or replaced some of those antennas and I HAVE made a mistake and taken someone off the air by accident.  A side note to this, don't demand a Diamond 500 or some other 18 foot long antenna be installed on their building.  You are not trying to talk to Mars, keep it reasonable.  And orange coax will work.  If' it's the 50 ohm stuff. (Private joke)

We as hams (technical people) need to bring technical tools to the table beyond basic communications.  Internet and WiFi, mesh networking, video streams from outlying areas, and other technical solutions for issues that will be faced by the public as well as the served agency.  But as it was mentioned before, make sure you can provide anything that you are claiming that you can provide and be able to do it several different ways.  Because if we show up and all we can do is talk on the radio, we will be doing grunt work,,, and beings that we are aging, that's not really an option for many of us any more.
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N0IOP
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Posts: 13




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« Reply #32 on: September 23, 2019, 10:48:43 AM »

Thank you all for the replies.

It appears to me that there are various local/regional pockets where served organizations do indeed appreciate help from the amateur radio community.

Based on the overall tone and content of the replies, it appears to me that this is the exception rather than the rule.  Reviewing some of the links to emergency services organizations, it appears to me that the people they really want are nurses and people who are good with chainsaws.

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KD8IIC
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Posts: 797




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« Reply #33 on: October 02, 2019, 02:52:11 PM »

 Like it or not, we've been replaced by the technology that the hams have pioneered yrs ago...
Time to sit back and just enjoy the show at this point.
No one needs a van full of Drake 4-Line to get a message through now that there is reliable digi and cellular.
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N8AUC
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Posts: 643




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« Reply #34 on: October 02, 2019, 07:30:09 PM »

I spent the last 2 weekends taking ICS-300 and 400 to add to the rest of the folder full of FEMA certificates in the binder that always travels in my go bag. I took these courses, because for the position I hold, they are now required training under the new statewide training plan.

The instructors were two recently retired county EMA directors. As guest speakers, they brought in the two currently serving EMA directors whose counties secured the grant money that paid for the courses to be put on.

Most of the other students were fire fighters, EMTs, and law enforcement officers. Most of them were rank and file people, some were command grade folks in their various departments. I was the only ARES person in the class. And I wasn't in a geographical area where I had responsibility. I wasn't in my district, or any of the 6 counties that comprise my district, so none of these people knew me from Adam. None of the other students had ever heard of ARES before. But the instructors knew what ARES is, and so did the other two EMA directors who addressed the group.

The common theme among all 4 EMA directors, is that we are (ARES) are valued. They know who we are, they know what we can do, and they all spoke highly of what we bring to the table. That may not be true everywhere. But it is around here.

As for reliable digi and cellular, under normal circumstances yes they are. But when things really go sideways, you lose those quickly. I've seen it happen. Those networks are not as reliable and resilient as you think they are, or are led to believe. And believe me when I tell you we certainly do not bring a van of Drake 4-line gear. They're great for a home station, but not terribly useful in the field these days. We bring all solid state gear, with antennas to cover all bands 1.8 - 450 MHz, all modes, including digital, and sufficient power to operate in the field, off the grid, for as long as we need to.



« Last Edit: October 02, 2019, 07:51:58 PM by N8AUC » Logged
W9FIB
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Posts: 2529




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« Reply #35 on: October 03, 2019, 04:44:50 AM »

Like it or not, we've been replaced by the technology that the hams have pioneered yrs ago...
Time to sit back and just enjoy the show at this point.
No one needs a van full of Drake 4-Line to get a message through now that there is reliable digi and cellular.

Too bad a van full of tubes and wires is still a common misconception of many in the public who even have a clue when you say "ham radio".

"Reliable" is a measurement over time. In a disaster, they can be down, but still be considered reliable. Which is why back up plans are still made using alternative methods including "ham radio".
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73, Stan
Wisdom is knowledge you gain after you know it all.
K0CBA
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Posts: 439




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« Reply #36 on: October 04, 2019, 06:39:05 AM »

What could possibly make people feel safer than a bunch of overweight, yellow vested, hard hat wearing putz's wandering aimlessly around with death grip on their tiny little Chinese walkie-squalkies?Huh??   
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PU2OZT
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Posts: 116




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« Reply #37 on: October 04, 2019, 08:55:31 AM »

What could possibly make people feel safer than a bunch of overweight, yellow vested, hard hat wearing putz's wandering aimlessly around with death grip on their tiny little Chinese walkie-squalkies?Huh??   
People gather because none of them would have made it if no food nor booze were available Grin

Oliver
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KC6RWI
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Posts: 211




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« Reply #38 on: October 04, 2019, 04:03:20 PM »

Thats a funny picture you paint, hams with yellow vests, can you add an aging country squire station wagon used in neighborhood watch to your description. I actually saw this in a 4th of july parade years back.
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KB8VUL
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Posts: 318




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« Reply #39 on: October 05, 2019, 07:49:46 AM »

Wasn't gonna go here.... but since someone else did, sort of, I will share this thought.

EMCOMM hams have been sold this bill of goods that they are the last best hope for humanity WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS!?!?!?!

Here's the problem with that in modern times and I will agree that up to 20 years ago, it had some bearing on reality.
After 9-11 federal state and local governments saw the communications issues that were faced by New York public safety and set about making sure that it never happened again.
The money that was spent was staggering on communications technology and consulting services. 

Which leads us to modern day public safety communications.  And what that when all else fails statement means.
Before 9-11 and the upgrade a single repeater failure in some areas could have taken out a whole county sheriffs ability to communicate.
Now with trunked state wide communications systems a full site can go down and the communications just keeps going.  This is due to proper allocation of coverage overlap, multiple dispatch centers serving an area and all that technology they didn't have or didn't even exist in 2001.

So what would ALL ELSE FAIL ing actually mean?
First the state wide system would need to fail.  Now that is multiple sites with overlap coverage and coverage of adjacent county overlap coverage going away as well.   So we are talking about 12 or so different radio sites all failing.  Not probable. And in fact near impossible short of multiple nukes coming in and decimating the area.  EMP's don't apply here as hams are screwed as well cuz your cheap Chinese radio is not EMP proof.

So the state is down, then we have the old VHF systems that are still on the air that no one uses because they are on the state system.  And again in my area, we have a 6 site VHF and 800 simulcast system that is there to provide backup that is on sites that the state system is not on. 

Then due to programming there are direct channels (simplex) that are in everyone's radio that can be used.  So public safety takes a page from the ham play book and they are communicating without repeaters as we claim to be the owner of. 

So the police cars and fire truck radios would all have to fail too.  So whats left,,,, or better who is left to even talk to or pass traffic for?

Back now to the 'when all else fails' thought process and the mentality of the yellow vest.
Because of hearing from their elmers and others that they are important and "provide a valuable service to the community" they get into believing that, a bit too much.
So some of them, the ones that got the yellow vest and ham radio badge, show up with a self view of entitlement that they are there to 'provide communications'.  Problem is that the communications that they are available to provide are all ready covered.  So, with their thoughts of self importance, begin to demand a seat at the table and become a problem.   
So at that point, they are promoted to setting up beds in the Red Cross tents or some other mundane task to get them out of the way.  And then they get a letter like the one making the rounds right now about their free tower site access being revoked and needing to pay thousands of dollars monthly for access to a tower they have been on for years.  And if they choose to not pay to please setup a time to remove their equipment that is going to be unplugged at the end of the month. 

So the truth is that none of us, other than the MD's out there and medical research tech that may cure cancer or come up with the cure for the next plague, are NOT the last best hope for humanity or even reliable communications for 'when all else fails'.  So get that crap out of your head, take the light bar off your family truckster and enjoy the ham radio hobby for what it is, a hobby with radio communications at its heart.  Because being able to talk on a radio doesn't make you superman, and in reality it doesn't even make you a good mall cop.
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N9AOP
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Posts: 1173




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« Reply #40 on: October 05, 2019, 08:06:26 AM »

If 'all else fails' I am going to be too busy looking for '3 hots and a cot' to be working the radio.
Art
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N9LCD
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Posts: 125




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« Reply #41 on: October 05, 2019, 08:51:20 AM »

Your primary responsibility in any emergency, or any situation, is to your immediate family.  ALL ELSE COMES SECOND!

If all else fails, my first concern would be my wife, not running about trying to impose help on those who may not need or want it!

N9LCD
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KB8VUL
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Posts: 318




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« Reply #42 on: October 05, 2019, 10:58:45 AM »

To the last two posts.

Tents, sleeping bags, cast iron cookware and a fire ring should be something that EVERYONE has in their basement and cupboard.
And learn to cook on cast iron on a camp fire.  It's sure different than cooking on a stove where the heat is controlled with a knob.

Clearing enough space for a tent and a fire ring is easy enough work for all but physically disabled.  And for the love of God, get a gun.
It serves two purposes, first is it's protection.  If you are sitting at a camp fire eating and someone that had no plans shows up, it's a great equalizer.
Second it feeds you.  No one is gonna give a damn if you poach a deer or a rabbit during a significant disaster.  And a deer is enough meat to feed you and a couple neighbors for a couple days to a week.  With no freezers, make sure to fully cook it though.  And after a week it's gonna be for the dogs, as it will be rotting and unfit for human consumption.

Keep 10 gallons of water that's potable and 10 gallons that's not for cleaning up and hygiene purposes.  And a bottle of dish washing liquid.  It will clean most things including you.
Other than that, canned goods, rice, bags of dry beans and other things that will keep.  Build up a couple 5 gallon buckets of the stuff.

Key is to have enough to last 5 days on your own.  By then either help has arrived or you are screwed and if you didn't plan long term you will suffer and die.
And putting it together over time is reasonable.  Buy a couple gallons of water at a time and a bag of beans or rice as you are shopping.  And get spices.  Even just salt and pepper will may things better.
 When you are at the home improvement store buy 2 buckets with lids.  3 bucks each and you will barely notice that you are doing it.

Once you have your tents and sleeping bags... camp in the back yard.  Know what you are going to face before facing it, if it ever comes.
Being immersed in a disaster situation is mentally draining.  Don't add to it with things like how do I cook this food or setup a tent or those sorts of things.

Lastly, a bucket and a toilet seat are a wonderful thing.  A board with a hole and a lean two tarp for privacy are a God sent for people.
Remember to empty the bucket every day or two and bury your waste.  Do not let your living space turn in to the crap pile (literally) that San Francisco has.  Basic sanitation will keep you healthy.

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SOFAR
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Posts: 1492




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« Reply #43 on: October 05, 2019, 11:14:04 AM »

@KB8VUL good post.

Especially the advice on dry runs. Once less thing to focus on when the SHTF.
At least when you start putting the tent together, preparing meals, you'll think 'hey, I've done this before'.

« Last Edit: October 05, 2019, 11:16:13 AM by SOFAR » Logged
N8AUC
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Posts: 643




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« Reply #44 on: October 05, 2019, 05:00:17 PM »

Wasn't gonna go here.... but since someone else did, sort of, I will share this thought.

EMCOMM hams have been sold this bill of goods that they are the last best hope for humanity WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS!?!?!?!

Exactly right. Ham radio is first a hobby. It's supposed to be fun. And you're supposed to learn about radio and electronics as you pursue this hobby. If it's not fun, you aren't doing it right. And what "it" is, varies from person to person.

It really is all fun and games most of the time. But when a served agency calls, that changes a bit. But only when that served agency calls. Until then, it's a hobby, and it's supposed to be fun. Bottom line, be trained and ready to help. But until you are called, it's just a fun hobby, so we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously. Regarding light bars, those are for real first responders and official vehicles. Ham Radio emcomm folks are neither, so light bars shouldn't be on our personal vehicles.

Oh, and about that "last best hope for humanity" thing? Forget about that. It's beyond ridiculous.

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