Hall ARES EC001 Emcomm Manual (Section 1)
Hall County Georgia Amateur Radio Emergency Service
Basic Emergency Communications (Level 1) Version 1.3
Hall County ARES Basic Emcomm Course 001
In an effort to provide the community with well trained emergency communicators, Hall County ARES has adopted a set of minimum training standards that our Active Duty personnel are required to take. The Basic Emcomm 001 course is one of these requirements. This course is based upon the ARRL Basic Emcomm 001 course material with a few additions and revisions to fit our particular needs. While this course is not mandated for our Active Reserve or Inactive Reserve, we do recommend it for them and anyone that is interested in emcomm.
This class costs 50.00 dollars if you take it from the ARRL but with us it is free. What a bargain... This is a mentored program. Before you begin studying the materials, please go to our contact section and send a request to the Emergency Coordinator. The EC will assign you a mentor to help you as you move through the materials. At the end of each section there will be a simple exercise to reinforce the lessons learned. The mentor will review your lesson and offer advice as needed.
At the end of the course there will be a 30 question multiple choice test. This test will be open book and the goal is to show that you are at least familiar enough with the information to know where to look it up. We do not expect you to memorize this info. Much of our job as emergency communicators is just knowing where to find the information we need. The goal here is to familiarize the student with our procedures well enough to be able to look up critical data when the need arises.
We hope everyone that wants to be involved with emcomm will take this course. If you find anything in the course material that is unclear or needs correction please let us know. If you find a mistake in the manual you will get a gold star on your final report card. Thank you for your time to take this class and we look forward to working with you.
Learning Unit 1 - Introduction to Emergency Communications
Objectives: Following completion of this Learning Unit, you will be able to define the terms Communications Emergency and the Incident Command System. You will also learn how Amateur Radio interacts with served agencies.
What is a Communications Emergency? The easiest way to think about a communications emergency - an incident - is to begin by using the definition in the ICS (Incident Command System) manual (http://www.fema.gov/emi/is195.htm). Section 1.9 defines an incident as any "... planned or unplanned occurrence or event, regardless of cause, which requires action by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or damage to property and/or natural resources."
Emergency Communication, EmCom, is an opportunity to provide the public service community with trained Amateur Radio operators who will have a consistent level of expertise in Emergency Communication no matter where in the United States they live. This program will provide consistency in technical training where ever the person lives.
The added benefit comes in that it will be easier to ensure the students understand the attitudes necessary to interface with the public service community in a manner which is beneficial to all. The goal of this document is to provide consistently knowledgeable communication people who have a very positive, service oriented attitude.
What is the Incident Command System? The Incident Command System is a management tool consisting of procedures for organizing personnel, facilities, equipment and communications at the scene of an emergency. The ICS is designed to assist anyone who has the responsibility for the successful outcome of an incident. The ICS provides a method for multiple agencies - police, fire, EMS, ARES/RACES - to cooperatively interact through a common communications link.
What does my attitude have to do with Emergency Communications? Everything! Public agencies such as the American Red Cross, and Salvation Army welcome the support services provided by Amateur Radio operators. Hams are trained, often provide their own equipment, and are generally well organized.
Yes, technical ability will enable you to do a far better job of communicating. But your attitude will determine the success of the overall Amateur Radio effort. The person who brings a "know it all" or "Cowboy" attitude will only hamper relations with served agencies.
When a ham assumes he can assist by the sheer fact that he has an FCC license, 3 handheld transceivers (HTs) and a vest with lots of patches he/she takes on an attitude. Attempting to deal with such a person who lacks proper ARES/RACES training simply magnifies the seriousness of the emergency situation. This adds new problems and can give a bad impression of amateur radio to the public service agency. We'll learn more about this in upcoming Learning Units.
The people you will be serving - remember that word - are professionals that have seen far too many people more interested in impressing someone than in getting the job done. You will actually impress them far more by being as quiet as you can and doing your job well. Results, without interference of served agency people, will cement relations with your served agency.
Simply stated, EmCom requires an explicit mental commitment to help others. Please read that again. A commitment to help others. To be effective in EmCom you will be required to expend significant effort and time in training and practice. Many say "I did that before, so I don't need to practice". This is not true. It will take time a lot of time, if you are to be successful. If you are willing to spend that time, WELCOME!
What defines a communications emergency? A communications emergency can be the result of a hurricane, tornado, flood or anything that disrupts normal communications. The common issue is when communications processes are inadequate to handle the flow of information required to service an incident, as defined in the ICS.
What role does Amateur Radio serve? Our primary role is to support the emergency management community (responders, relief and recovery agencies) with communications during times of emergency and disaster when normal communications are unavailable or overwhelmed. Please understand that we are NOT a rapid response team. If you arrive at the scene of an emergency just as the sirens are quieting, keep your mouth shut and get out of the way unless requested to perform a task that you feel qualified to do!
We do not normally provide first aid, transport victims, provide traffic control or any other function normally provided by public service agencies. But if your first on the scene, do what your capable of and within your skill set to help save lives and property. Do not put yourself at risk or further risk any victims.
Unlike general amateur radio activities, emergency operations happen in real-time. Things cannot be delayed. Emergency communicators are looking for specific stations to contact NOW to pass traffic. Teamwork, not competition between stations, is imperative. Emergency communications involves both amateurs and non-amateurs alike. Emergency communicators must have the equipment, skill and knowledge to improvise additional communications capacity in very short order. In all of this, leadership, teamwork and initiative are key factors to success!
After reviewing this material, please answer and share with your mentor via the email address they supply. We recommend that you do not take more than two modules per session and then do not proceed beyond that until your mentor has critiqued your answers to the questions. Remember that quite often a mentor may be assisting multiple students so please respect their time but do not be afraid to ask questions either.
1a. List three ways in which emergency communications are similar to day-to-day communications.
1b. List six ways in which emergency communications differ from Non-emergency Communications.
2. In an emergency situation, a served agency asks you to forward an urgent message. Which one of the following methods would you NOT employ? In one or two sentences, tell why you selected your answer.
a. CB radio
b. Family radio
c. Informal, conversational grapevine
d. The served agency's own radio system.