INTRODUCTION - Read This First!
The information presented here may seem overwhelming at first, but if taken in small bites (bytes) it will become more clearly understood.
The key is to realize that Rome was not built in a day.
And, in the same vein, it would be most unfair to expect a new volunteer to get up to speed (knowledge, skills and equipment) overnight.
So, Relax... Take a deep breath... and Read on.
What is ARES?
"ARES" is the Amateur Radio Emergency Service.
ARES (pronounced air'-ees) is a registered program of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), which is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO).
WE ARE NOT A "CLUB"
ARES is a Federal and State recognized Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster (VOAD) with 1 Mission:
To provide Auxiliary Communications in the event that regular communication systems either FAIL and/or become OVERLOADED.
The ARRL has 15 Divisions covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Each Division is further broken down into Sections. Larger states may be divided into multiple Sections, but most states such as Connecticut are a Section unto itself.
ARES works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] and provides Auxiliary Communications services for agencies such as Connecticut Offices of Emergency Management/Homeland Security (CT DEMHS), American Red Cross, and Salvation Army. Many of our volunteers work in their local communities to help with emergency planning and communications assistance in time of need.
WE ARE NOT "FIRST RESPONDERS"
In a crisis, our first priority is to provide needed communications for CT DEMHS. This is usually done through their main HQ in Hartford and the 5 Regional Emergency Operations Centers [EOC]. We go where they need us.
The next priority is providing communications for the Red Cross chapters within Connecticut.
Connecticut has been divided into 5 Regions by CT DEMHS, and CT ARES parallels the same divisions. Each of these 5 Regions has an ARES District Emergency Coordinator [DEC] appointed to oversee operations there. Other Special DEC’s have been appointed for working specifically with the Red Cross, National Traffic System, Special Operations, and National Weather Service's SKYWARN program (ARES-SKYWARN).
District Emergency Coordinators recommend individuals for appointment to the position of Emergency Coordinators [EC]to work in specific towns or localities. All recommendations for EC are subject to the approval of the CT ARES Section Emergency Coordinator [SEC] and the CT ARES Section Manager [SM]. The Section Manager is the elected head of the Field Organization of the American Radio Relay League.
How Much Time Do I Need To Commit?
We live in a very temperate climate where not much happens, and when it does it is usually an inconvenience.
However, it is an error to be lulled into "BLUE SKY" complacency. We need to keep our knowledge, skills and equipment in "Ready To Go" condition.
After completing the initial "CORE 4" training (see: Training), your can figure on an average of 1 - 3 hours per month, depending on activities.
As an ARES TEAM member, "participation" is the name of the game.
Here is a list of activities we offer to help keep you "Trained - Ready - Active".
- Region 2's "Readiness Net" (weekly)
- Local ARES Team Meetings
- Regional Training Sessions
- "Surprise"/"Fun" Drills
- Public Service Events (3 or more per year)
- Simulated Emergency Test (annually each Fall)
- CT DEMHS EPPI Drill (when CT ARES participates)
What Equipment Do I Need?
When ARES is really needed, we are typically facing... A DISASTER.
Being a member of ARES gives you the opportunity (and incentive) to expand your equipment beyond the basic 5 watt HT, develop superior operating skills, and discover the fun of Data Communications.
We have to plan on repeaters being off the air, and being able communicate using Simplex.
When that happens, a 5 watt dual-band (144/440 MHz) HT with a rubber duck antenna becomes less than effective in our area of operations.
Simply put, you need a better antenna and... MORE POWER.
We strongly recommend having a dual-band (144/440 MHz) 20-50 watt mobile radio with appropriate antennae for both mobile and portable use, and/or a separate dual-band amplifier for your HT capable of at least 25 watts (e.g. Mirage BD-35).
Data Communications capability (Tx/Rx Emails via RF) will require a Windows capable notebook computer, a TNC, and your radio.
General and Extra Class ARES members will be able to use their HF radios on 75m & 40m phone nets with an NVIS antenna, and RMS Express "Winmor" (HF Data Communications)
What Training Do I Need?
Our operations must comply with the National Incident Management System (NIMS). We operate under the Incident Command System (ICS) when activated.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now requires all volunteers, including Amateur Radio operators to be certificated in at least IS 100.b, IS 200.b, IS 700.a and IS 800.b course material. In ARES, we call this "The CORE 4".
"CORE 4" certification is YOUR PASSPORT to working with Emergency Management folks when the call comes to "Deploy" or participate in their Exercises/Drills.
Following the attack on this country on 9/11 and the damage done by Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) realized that all responders have to be "on the same page" when it comes to working side by side.
We have to understand the language and terminology of what is taking place if we're to have credibility when we're called upon to assist.
With that in mind, they developed courses that teach any potential disaster responders (both volunteer and professional) the basics of emergency response. The courses they recommend have become known as the "CORE 4" training courses.
Within ARES, to become compliant with DEMHS, any Amateur Radio Operator who may be deployed to a location to assist personnel in an Emergency Operations Center (EOC), a Public Service Answer Point (PSAP) where 911 calls are handled, or any other position where the amateur might interface with government or emergency personnel, is encouraged to take these courses.
The courses are available on-line FREE of charge from FEMA and take from two to three hours each to complete.
Following each course, the student takes an on-line, open-book test, and upon successful completion of the course, receives an email containing his or her certificate.
All Connecticut ARES Team members are strongly encouraged to become "CORE 4" certified. Those who aren't certified simply won't be called upon to assist.
- And, isn't that the reason you joined ARES to begin with)?
When you finish your "CORE 4" courses, please do the following:
1) Print and retain your certificates.
2) Using your email notifications from each course, make a PDF document of each certificate.
3) Send all four PDFs attached to a single email to your Region's District Emergency Coordinator (DEC)
4) Update your CT ARES Registration information.
The"CORE 4" On-line FEMA Independent Study [IS] courses are FREE.
- IS 100.b: Introduction to Incident Command System
- IS 200.b: Incident Command System for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents
- IS 700.a: National Incident Management System (NIMS), An Introduction
- IS 800.b: National Response Framework, An Introduction
Don't worry about the tailing alpha identifier (e.g. IS 100.a) - They are all good.
As of 04/21/2015 the following are current:
IS 100.b, 200.b, 700.a, 800.b
Recommended Additional Programs
- IS 22, IS 288 , IS 317
- EmComm Level 1 (EC-001)
- Public Service and Emergency Management for Radio Amateurs (EC-016)
National Weather Servce
- Basic Skywarn Spotter
American Red Cross (ARC)
- First Aid
- CPR with AED
- Introduction to Disaster Services
How do I Join?
Go to the CT ARES website, http://www.ctares.org/ ,
Click ARES MEMBERSHIP in the left column.
Read that page.
Then, go to https://secure1.ema.arrl.org/qilan/ares/CT/CT_ARES_about
If you have problems, just ask for help.
How is Region 2 Organized?
Region 2 comprises 30 TOWNS.
These 30 towns are grouped into 7 ZONES
- West 1, West 2, Central 1, Central 2, Central 3, East 1, East 2
The 7 Zones are grouped into 3 AREAS
- West, Central, East
The 3 AREAS then consolidate to form Region 2
The ARES organization model works on the premise that each town will have its own Emergency Coordinator [EC] and its own resident ARES TEAM, supported by Zone and Area ECs.
Right now, we are looking for capable folks to fill EC positions at all 3 levels – Area, Zone, Town.
If your town does not have an EC, and you think you have what it takes to be the EC and head up a local ARES TEAM, then contact the District Emergency Coordinator [DEC] for Region 2 and find out what is involved.
- The Work is easy, the Hours are great, the People are fantastic, and the pay is... unbelievable.(LOL!)
The District Emergency Coordinator [DEC] recommends individuals for appointment to the position of Emergency Coordinator [EC] to work in specific towns or localities. All recommendations for EC are subject to the approval of the CT ARES Section Emergency Coordinator [SEC] and the CT Section Manager [SM]. The Section Manager is the elected head of the Field Organization of the American Radio Relay League.
How Often Is Region 2 officially "Activated"?
Reason: ARES is the LAST LINE OF DEFENSE with regards to COMMUNICATIONS.
- WE ARE NOT "FIRST RESPONDERS".
Good News & Bad News.
There are only 2 reasons for ARES to be Activated:
- When regular communication systems FAIL.
- When regular communication systems are OVERLOADED.
Fortunately, Region 2 does not normally experience events which would cause this to happen.
- This means that your ARES time commitment is quite small (avg. 3 hrs per month over the year), leaving plenty of time for the other things in your life.
No matter what the "frequency" of our activation...
We need to be Trained, Active and Ready to answer THE CALL.
What Happens when Region 2 is "Activated"?
Typically,, the state's Area Coordinator for Region 2 will call the CT ARES Section Emergency Coordinator [SEC] for assistance.
The SEC alerts the Region 2 District Emergency Coordinator [DEC].
The DEC then calls his ARES Emergency Coordinators [ECs] for assistance
The ECs alert their local ARES TEAM members.
During major events, an alert is sent out over the state repeaters and various websites alerting ARES members to prepare for deployment.
CT ARES works closely with the CT Red Cross to provide communications from operational shelters; communications are also provided for various Health Districts around the State.
Similarly, CT ARES additionally runs various drills to verify that our own Emergency Operating Plan [EOP] and procedures are instrumental in completing any given task during an emergency.
CT ARES often drills hand-in-hand with town and State officials during their exercises. Both sides are, therefore, better coordinated to operate more efficiently should an actual emergency occur.