Here is a basic overview of ARES and how you can get involved.
ARES, Amateur Radio Emergency Service is a group of operators who volunteer for emergencies both natural and man-made. ARES is also involved in taking part in organized events in the community such as county fairs, health fairs and sporting events such as cycling.
ARES works in partnership with local counties, sheriff’s offices, cities and state organizations to provide communications. There are many times that common communications would not be available. Some of these circumstances may be incidents such as: wildfires, tornados, earthquakes and flooding.
Here in Colorado we recently had a wildfire that spread rapidly destroying homes and the infastructure in the community. During incidents such as the wildfire, cell phone towers and landlines were damaged. ARES members were activated to aid in communications at the wildfire site including Command, shelters, first aid stations, and in the field with the fire fighters. They were able to provide communications to all agencies with one form of communication to aid in agencies efficiently working together.
ARES works on the system of ICS (Incident Command System) and NIMS (National Incident Management System). Both of these programs were set up by the federal government to form a system that all agencies and the private sector could efficiently work together before, during and recovery of national and man-made disasters. Most breakdowns in getting the right help to the right people come down to management and communication.
ARES groups are generally broken down based on your county, city or state. You can locate your local ARES by searching the internet for ARES & your local county or city and state.
What to expect when getting involved with ARES:
1. You will be asked to fill out an application.
2. An inventory of your equipment, resources and training.
3. A background check
4. Online classes that are required for your ARES chapter to stay certified. These classes are available for anyone interested in learning more about how incidents will be managed. The courses are free and are available at http://training.fema.gov/IS/crslist.asp
There are also links through your local ARES website. The courses that are recommended are IS-100, IS-200, IS-700, IS 800 and IS-704. They are all independent study. Depending on the agency, some are required.
Here is a link to my ARES forms so that you can see what is involved in applying. There are 3 pages: application, equipments inventory and background check. Your local ARES forms will vary but here is a good example. http://www.arapahoeares.org/forms/icspd ... s_2010.pdf
It is important to keep the information on your application and inventory up to date so that your administrator knows your capabilities and equipment for the given situation. I usually just shoot off an email to the group administrator when I get new equipment or retire equipment.
You can take part in ARES even if you work a full-time job, have limited time or resources. The only requirement is that you are a licensed amateur radio operator. Personally I have enjoyed the training and look forward to taking part in some of the exercises planned in my area. It gives you an opportunity to volunteer in your community and to hone in your radio skills.
If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to contact me!