Novermber 2017

November 2017

EC Bulletin

There is a critical and delicate relationship that needs to be understood between the agencies we serve and emergency communicators.  The relationship between emcomm operators and served agencies can be summed up in four words. You work for them. You are an unpaid employee of the agency. There is no difference between paid employees and unpaid employees. The same qualifications must be met. The success of the agency should be first and foremost in your mind. There are only two decisions you can make on your own.

  1. Will I volunteer?
  2. Is my life or station in danger?

All other decisions will be made for you by someone else in your chain-of-authority.

Emcomm operators do not make policy they follow policy. These policies are established by the served agency. It is our responsibility to comply with their policy if we expect to be part of their agency. The other paid employees and volunteers are required to meet the agencies qualifications. We are no different than they are.

You have been assigned to an agency because their communications system has become ineffective or has failed. Your job is to do what is necessary to meet their communications needs. They have been on the job for many hours before you showed up. They most likely have had little rest and their patients are wearing thin. If you go in making demands or issuing orders your tenure as an employee will be cut short. The relationship between the served agency and the emcomm group could also be put in danger. Your attitude is more important than your radio skills.

As has been demonstrated with the latest hurricanes that devastated the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico the only communications out of these areas has been amateur radio. At the time of this writing 70% of the cell sites are still offline. Radio amateurs have been used to assist the American Red Cross (ARC) Safe and Well program. Amateurs were used to gather information from islanders and report that information to the ARC, so it could be posted on the website. No inbound inquiries are permitted. Times are changing and we, the radio amateurs, must conform to the changes if we expect to remain a viable organization.

If you are being asked to do something that is beyond the scope of your FCC license privileges, it’s your responsibility to inform the supervisor or person in charge. Other arrangements must be made. Otherwise you should comply with the orders even if it does not mean using the radio. Emcomm is not all about amateur radio. Amateur radio is only a tool that can be used. It does not necessarily mean that it will be used.

We are called Amateurs only because we cannot receive money for our services. It does not mean that we should deliver anything less than a professional service. To be an efficient and effective emcomm operator our training must be certifiable and kept current as specified by the served agency. Additional served agency specific training will be provided by the served agency.

Emcomm operators have a reputation for providing necessary communications in times of disaster. Sometimes it may be the only communication out of the affected area. This is a new century and we face new threats. Training requirements have changed. If you would like to be part of the solution, then consider updating your training and consider serving with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service®. Go to http://www.hamradioelpaso/emergencycoordination to find out the qualifications for becoming an ARES® member.

Other News

On November 16-18 EPCARES will be conducting our annual SET (Simulated Emergency Test). The SET is our premiere EMCOMM event of the year. This year we will be using D-RATS as the base mode of communications. We will be testing the Map functions as well as newly created ICS forms. We will be testing with other West Texas Counties.  

The terms Amateur Radio Emergency Service® and ARES® are both registered trademarks of the American Radio Relay League and are used by permission.

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT 
ARRL Emergency Coordinator-El Paso County 
Assist. DEC Culberson and Hudspeth Counties 
e-mail: kb5hpt@arrl.netSeptember 2017