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 have no obligations. According to the American Radio Relay League guidelines: "The only qualification, other than possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve."
Some of our volunteers are equipped, ready, and able to jump into all manner of emergency situations. Others are unable or do not wish to activate during emergencies. The manner and degree to which you wish to participate is up to you. Clearly, though, if you wish to activate and work during emergencies, you will be required to take a certain amount of training.
Do I have to take the Introduction to Emergency Communication course? If so, why?
You only have to take the Introduction to Emergency Communication course if you wish to actively participate during emergencies. We feel that the course contains information that is vital for you to know. If you cannot or do not wish to take the ARRL online course, you can simply purchase the course book and study it on your own. Local ARRL VE teams can give you the final exam.
Note: You do not have to take the course if you already have a certificate for the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course (ARECC).
Do I have to take FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) courses? If so, why?
You must take FEMA courses if you wish to work at one of the ARES served agencies or if you want to be a RACES operator.
As much as they may need volunteers, many agencies are leery of using them. The State of Missouri Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has determined that all volunteers should take certain FEMA courses (IS-100, IS-700, IS-800). This is to insure that the volunteers have some understanding of how to work with disaster relief and other professional agencies. Many local agencies follow the SEMA guidelines 1 and insist that their own volunteers take the same FEMA courses. See the Training Page for more information.
The St. Louis County Police Office of Emergency Management also requires that amateur radio volunteers (RACES) take specific FEMA courses (IS-100, IS-200, IS-700).
The FEMA courses can be taken online through the FEMA Independent Study Program. They are not particularly difficult. You can take as much time as you want and take the online test when you are ready.
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
- Veterans Administration Medical Center
- St. Louis County Department of Health
- St. Louis County Police Office of Emergency Management
- City of St. Louis Emergency Management Agency
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 "radiograms". We occasionally pass "formal traffic" on the ARES® net (usually obtained from the National Traffic System) to gain practical experience in handling radiograms. We encourage all amateur radio operators listening to the net to write down the messages for practice, even if they are not going to deliver them. (See the Message Handling page for more information.)
Why is there a St. Louis County ARES® and also a St. Louis City ARES®?There is no longer any difference. The two groups recently merged, forming St. Louis Metro ARES®.
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.
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 net 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 Only 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.
1 - Please see the Software section of the Resources page if you do not have software necessary to read these files.
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