2017 will bring a different way of training to our Amateur Radio Emergency Services team. By now, this should not be a surprise as we have covered it extensively over the last two meetings. The December 9th website post titled “A Change In The Way We Train” explains things pretty clearly. Training changes were the main topic in the December ARES newsletter and there have been several emails as well.
We’ve talked about why we need to change the way we train and we’ve gone over the outline for all the meetings and exercises involved as we move into the new year. The December post “Are You Prepared For Deployment” covers what equipment team members are expected to bring to training and exercises.
Let’s spend a moment outlining our next training session, specifically January 2, 2017. This meeting will be held in the Centralia Emergency Operations Center and will begin, as usual at 6:30 pm. This will be a joint training session with the Lewis County ARES team since the training will be valuable to both teams. Michaelle Fries from the Red Cross will be our guest speaker and will discuss Red Cross shelter deployment. So why is this important? There are no designated shelter locations in our community. When a shelter is required, someone steps up and volunteers a business or school as a short term solution. Red Cross, while doing a great job, takes longer to establish local shelters and that can sometimes be a problem. More importantly, what is the quality of these short term shelters? Who logs shelter occupants in and out of the facility? Who passes health and welfare information on to relatives that their loved ones are safe? The answer is “no one”.
The purpose of our spring training is two fold. First, we will train extensively on setting up a disaster shelter and establishing amateur radio communications at that facility capable of speaking directly with the Centralia EOC or Riverside Fire ECC. Team members will learn what is needed in a shelter, be able to assess potential shelter locations, work at setting up basic communications within those shelter locations and practice sending both health & welfare information as well as learning how to request equipment for the shelter. The second purpose to to train each and every team member on all ARES equipment and locations. This means certifying all team members on our communications van, Comm II as well as our self contained shelter communications trailer, Comm III. It also includes certifying everyone on all fire station locations and their amateur radio equipment. Finally it means we will train extensively on how to establish emergency communications systems capable of talking with our required emergency management entities…..”When All Else Fails.” By now, there should be very little doubt about what we are up to in the first months of 2017.
Returning to the January 2nd ARES meeting – and ALL meetings and exercises extending through April – here are the required items you will need to bring to each training and exercise session. You will need your ARES identification, your ARES vest, field resource manual, HT (and go bag contents to support that HT) and note taking materials. Know how to operate your HT and know what is in your field resource manual as we will be using both at nearly every training session. Much of what we will be doing will be outdoors. Dress for the weather.
If you haven’t built a small go-bag that you can take with you to every exercise, I encourage you to do so soon. The go-bag should support your HT (extra battery or charging system). It should contain a flashlight and a small first aid kit. Consider water and snacks. Be sure to have pen/pencil and note taking materials and don’t forget your field resource manual. We will be using much of this equipment at each and every training session and exercise. Don’t forget your ARES vest.
Finally, it is time to learn the phonetic alphabet well. We will use it to conduct health & welfare messages from the shelters. We will use it when ordering equipment for the shelters and we will be practicing with it at every training session and exercise. As a reminder, it is listed in your field resource manual, but it would be best to simply learn it.
2017 will be a busy time for our team. Every one of you is fully capable of stepping up and learning all the important lessons provided. We will get wet or cold from time to time and we will fail once in awhile as well but when we are done, we will know, really know, that we can make amateur radio work….when all else fails!