According to Presidential Homeland Security Directive-5, Yavapai County ARES/RACES 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 have completed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) IS-100.b, IS-200.b, IS-700.a and IS-800.b course material. For non-governmental employees and others without access to classroom instruction, these courses are available as on-line independent-study courses that are free of charge at the links above.

As a result, the Yavapai County Office of Emergency Management (YCOEM) has mandated that all amateur radio operators participating in emergencies must have completed the FEMA training courses.  A secondary reason for requiring these courses is that grant money from various government organizations requires certification of all emergency participants, including volunteers.

Obviously, amateur radio is at the core of what we do, but in order to officially participate with Yavapai County, all members must have a common understanding of the ICS.  The baseline courses are defined above.  We have added either the KYHam or the ARRL EC-001 course so that everyone has the fundamental knowledge of how amateur radio operates as part of emergency communications.   So, in order to be a member of ARES/RACES you must complete 5 on-line courses – that’s it.

Most hams interested in ARES/RACES have a basic understanding of FM voice communication, as a result of the popularity of 2 Meters and the low price of radios for that band and mode.  With the practice that comes from net check-ins, public service events and our exercises, this skill level will allow you to contribute during emergencies.

ARES/RACES members are expected to own a computer with an Internet connection and have some knowledge of its operation.  Email is our primary tool for newsletters and day-to-day communications.  The Digital Communications Course described below requires connecting a computer to your radio and sending emails via the Winlink system.  A laptop is preferable – the Winlink system software currently works only on the Windows operating system.  Our participation with the Winlink system is described here.

Advanced Training Opportunities

The expectations of the YCOEM people working in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) are that we understand the latest in radio communication technology (including the use of computers) and have the competence to make use of it.  For those members interested in learning more, we are adding three optional areas of expertise; members who choose to participate will receive training and experience to become proficient in each area of expertise they have selected. Of course, we’d love it if everyone opted-in to everything, and indeed we need many volunteers to make this work, but we don’t expect that of everyone. However, during an emergency, certain areas of expertise will be required for some assignments.  We will track each member’s skill levels and when an incident occurs we will assign people accordingly. Currently, our three areas of expertise are:

  1. Digital Communications (Winlink) – if you have passed the existing Digital Communications Course and are continuing to practice by sending emails as part of our digital net check-in, you will get credit for this area. We will be developing a new training course around deployment software (PC Go Kit) in the near future.
  1. HF (emphasis on field deployment) – if you have a mobile or a field-deployable HF radio system, you will get credit for this area. We will be developing a new training course around operating deployment hardware (Radio Go Kit) in the future.
  1. Public Safety Auxiliary Communications (AUXCOMM) – If you have completed the AUXCOMM class, you will get credit for this area. We will be developing a new training course around the requirement to communicate between the EOC and Public Safety Dispatch Center in the near future.

The ARES/RACES Digital Communications Course has been developed by our members and is taught periodically.

We will be adding additional opportunities for members to improve their emergency communications skills as we can.