I'm a member of the ARRL so I'm automatically in ARES®, right?This seems to be a common belief but it is incorrect. ARES teams in Missouri are organized and run at the county level and are managed by an appointed EC (Emergency Coordinator). To be part of ARES you need to fill out an application and turn it in to your local EC. (Note: If you send an application to the ARRL instead it may take months before it makes its way to the appropriate EC.)
What are my obligations if I join ARES®?
You are expected to take the required training courses and participate in nets, drills, meetings and exercises as often as you can. You will need to take FEMA online courses IS-100, IS-200, IS-700 and IS-800 (they are free). You will also need to take the ARRL's EC-001 course, Introduction to Emergency Communication. This is also free (although the course book is not), and can be taken online. We also try to teach the course locally once a year.
Why the big change? It used to be that all you needed was a license and "a sincere desire to help".
Emergency management is a constantly-evolving field. Every significant disaster results in a review of what was done, and how responses and procedures should be updated. The ARRL is working hard to make ARES® compliant with the National Incident Management System (NIMS). As volunteers, we need to comply with the same rules and follow the same procedures as the agencies for which we are working.
What is a "served agency"? Who are they?
ARES® teams provide services to a variety of local emergency and relief organizations. Once a MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) has been signed by ARES® and by an organization, that organization becomes one of the ARES® team's "clients", or a "served agency".At this time St. Louis Metro ARES® has MOUs with -
- The Bellefontaine Habilitation Center
- The St. Louis Developmental Disabilities Treatment Center
- Central County Emergency 911
- St. Louis Veterans Administration Medical Center
- St. Louis County Department of Public Health
- St. Louis County Police Office of Emergency Management
- City of St. Louis Emergency Management Agency
- Washington University School of Medicine
- St. Louis Chapter of the American Red Cross
Other MOUs are pending and discussions with other potential agencies are underway.
What's with all the "formal traffic" on the St. Louis Metro ARES® net?
During an actual emergency it is very likely that ARES® will be used to relay messages between served agencies, shelters, disaster sites and so forth. To make sure that the messages are accurate and are properly routed they will usually be in the form of written messages sent as ARRL "radiograms" or FEMA ICS-213 messages. We occasionally pass "formal traffic" on the ARES® net to gain practical experience in handling radiograms. There is also a "practice traffic net" immediately after the regular net where participants can practice the sending and receiving of both types of messages. See the Message Handling Tips page for more information.)
What area does St. Louis Metro ARES® encompass?
St. Louis Metro ARES® serves the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.
What's the difference between St. Louis Metro ARES® and St. Louis County RACES?The two groups have different parent organizations (ARES is a program of the ARRL and the local RACES team is run by the St. Louis County Police Office of Emergency Management), but they have merged and now operate as a single entity. Technically, it is St. Louis Metro ARES®/RACES. St. Louis Metro ARES® volunteers automatically become St. Louis County RACES volunteers as well. It is important to note that volunteers must complete the FEMA training courses before they can be deployed for RACES operations.
Can I join more than one ARES® team?
You can, but most disaster and relief organizations discourage you from "wearing too many hats". They want to know that if they train you, you will make a reasonable effort to make yourself available to them during a disaster. If you join several organizations that will need your services at the same time, you may be asked to declare a "primary allegiance".The American Radio Relay League recommends that you join the ARES® team in the community where your residence is located.
When you have a real emergency, can I help?The time to get involved is now. Join us. Let us train you and help you prepare. Let us learn what your strengths, talents, and interests are. We won't have time to do any of this when a real emergency arises.
I'm not sure if I'm ready to volunteer. What should I do?There are several things you can do while you consider whether or not to volunteer. You can check in to our weekly 2 meter nets without being a volunteer. You can monitor our on-air exercises. You can drop by our table at area hamfests. Or you can contact our Emergency Coordinator (see contacts page) directly. He will be happy to answer any of your questions.
Where can I find your "net script"?The "script" for the weekly 2 meter net can be found on the Voice Net Operations page.
If I volunteer, can I expect to work emergencies?Conditionally, yes.
Our Training pages describe what we'd like you to do and what training you will need before you can be dispatched to an emergency. In addition, you will need to inform the Emergency Coordinator that you would like to be put on the "deployment list". We do not send ARES® volunteers to emergencies unless they have been adequately trained and have expressed a desire and willingness to work. More information on this topic can be found on the Registered Volunteers pages.
Why is the name of your group a registered mark?The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® is a program of the American Radio Relay League. "ARES" and "Amateur Radio Emergency Service" are registered marks of and are used on this Web site by permission of the ARRL. We are required to show the ® symbol any time we use either name.
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