Guest Article by TempStar
We all enter into Amateur Radio for various reasons.
My reasons were two-fold:
1.To augment my preparedness for situations that may render Amateur Radio the only means of communication available
2.To give a little back to the community by assisting with Emergency Communications as needed.
The first was easy, the latter has taken me on a journey that has led to a few incredible discoveries.
In order to be a communications volunteer to assist your community with the government, and to be taken seriously, one must begin the process of obtaining education about it. The first tier is usually ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) and progresses in steps all the way to the Federal level. And yes, FEMA and Homeland security use Amateur Radio operators.
The first steps into the learning process would be taking the free FEMA Incident Command System online courses, starting with the basic four that most agencies require, ICS-100, ICS-200, ICS-700, and ICS-800. You can find the links to these courses here https://training.fema.gov/is/nims.aspx
These courses will guide structure, layout and lingo that the Federal Government takes when Emergency Management is called into action. They are completed online and a nice certificate of completion is emailed to you upon successfully passing the online test.
If you wish to move up the ladder, you’ll have to locate where the ICS-300 and ICS-400 are being taught, as they are classroom only versions that will be required to work in the actual Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
After all of this, I promise you’ll be a cool headed operator in the face of mass confusion, but wait, there’s more! You can also obtain AUXCOMM certification from the Department of Homeland Security. This is a two day class taught by DHS instructors. This will give you a lot of beneficial skills and knowledge required to operate Amateur Radio in any disaster. And so far, your total investment in a wealth of knowledge is 0 except for your time.
Now back to the FEMA site. Go there and get the course catalog. There is a lot of information there even if you don’t want to pursue Emergency Communications. My favorite was ICS-324, Hurricane Preparedness. Since I live on the South Carolina Coast, this was a great resource that taught me much about prediction cones, surges, and criteria that dictates who gets evacuated and when. I promise there will be something of interest to all.
The main website: