October 2018

October 2018

DEC Bulletin

When I give my Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) Orientation I’m asked, “Why the FEMA Courses?”

For many years, Amateur Radio has longed to be taken seriously by governmental authorities as a professional-quality resource in disaster response. Although there are areas of the country where achieving and maintaining emergency management agencies' respect is still a struggle, Amateur Radio's service during 9/11 and the major hurricane disasters has brought us a new level of respect and new opportunities at the national level.

Being taken seriously as a resource comes with a price that must be paid by individual volunteers not in dollars but in precious personal time. When the federal government instituted the National Incident Management System (NIMS), it imposed a set of requirements on state and local emergency management agencies and their personnel. Affected personnel include not only paid employees of emergency management and related agencies, but also volunteers such as those in volunteer fire companies, ARES®, and RACES. If the emergency management agencies are to continue receiving federal funds, personnel must complete several FEMA training courses having to do with the Incident Command System (ICS) and NIMS. Individuals who do not complete the training will not be allowed to participate, even as volunteers.

These FEMA courses are free of charge, available on line or sometimes in person at emergency management offices, and not difficult to master. The courses are useful in familiarizing volunteers with the principles of the Incident Command System and showing where communications fits into the ICS structure. These formal requirements are here to stay and more may follow. At the national level, Amateur Radio has earned the respect we always wanted, bringing us closer to the emergency management establishment.

In addition to the FEMA courses individuals are required to complete the ARRL Introduction to Emergency Communication Course (EC-001). The EC-001 is a revision of the former Emergency Communications Basic/Level 1 course. This on-line course is designed to provide basic knowledge and tools for any emergency communications volunteer. This course costs $50 for ARRL members and $75 for non-members/guests. Prerequisites for this course are IS-100 (Introduction to the Incident Command System); and IS-700 (National Incident Management System). The IS-200.b (ICS for Single Recourses and Initial Action Incidents) teaches you how tooperate efficiently during an incident or event within the Incident Command System (ICS). Finally, the IS-800 introduces participants to the concepts and principles of the National Response Framework. IS-200 and IS-800 have no prerequisites. Served agencies may require additional credentials as well. Those will be addressed later.

Having the proper credentials are more important than your operating skills. Without these basic credential’s volunteers are classified as “non-deployable”. They will not be used in a capacity where they will be serving an agency no matter how badly the agency might need them. When individuals complete the courses make sure that a copy of the training certificate is given to the local EC. Also, make sure a copy of the certificates is a part of the paper work in the “GO BAG”. Credentials will be screened at the Staging Area prior to deployment. The local EC is not the person that is requiring volunteers to have these credentials but is required to inforce the requirements established by FEMA and the served agencies.

Questions and comments are welcome and encouraged regarding the content of this article. Send an email to the address shown below.

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

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT
DEC, District 6 – Far West Texas
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net