For years we as amateur radio EMCOMM organizations have been hoping that amateur radio would be recognized by the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as a viable communications group. We are called Amateur Radio Operators by name but that does not mean that we cannot provide a professional communications service.
In March 2023 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released the new National Incident Management System (NIMS) Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Functional Guidance manual. The manual can be found at https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/documents/fema_ict-functional-guidance.pdf. The new manual has included amateur radio in the Communications Unit.
The ICT function establishes, maintains, and protects the communications and IT infrastructure and capabilities used by others within the Incident Command System (ICS). Under NIMS the Communications Unit resides in the Logistics Branch. The Communications Unit is under control of the Communications Unit Leader (COML). Under the COML is the Incident Communications Center Manager (INCM). The INCM oversees Radio Operators (RADO), Incident Tactical Dispatchers (INTD) and Auxiliary Communications (AUXC).
Amateur radio makes up the AUXC. The AUXC responsibilities are:
§ Installs appropriate/approved auxiliary communications equipment as directed by the COML or INCM.
§ Tests all components of auxiliary communications equipment to ensure systems are operational.
§ Operates auxiliary communications equipment for voice and data communications.
§ Establishes auxiliary communications area(s) of operation; and
§ Interacts and coordinates with appropriate auxiliary communications operational personnel.
If needed, duties could also expand to other duties as directed by the COML and the INCM depending on the level of expertise (some expedient training may be provided) such as:
§ Distributing and recovering communications equipment assigned to incident personnel.
§ Programming Public Safety radios
§ Administrative duties
§ Acting as a scribe for a particular P25 channel
Training for the AUXC duties is the AUXCOMM course (highly recommended) provided by FEMA. This is a twenty-hour resident course. The course is spread out over a three-day period. Prerequisites for the AUXCOMM course are the current IS-100, 200, 700, and 800 which are free online courses. Go to https://training.fema.gov/is/crslist.aspx?lang=en for the course list. The AUXCOMM training is designed to inform students about working in a NIMS environment. When working with our NIMS partners there is a dress code for an AUXC. The dress code will be casual dress with no distinguishing markings with affiliation to other groups or organizations.
Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT
Amateur Radio Emergency Service
DEC, District 6, WTX Section
TX RACES: DRO-08A