Recently, the FEMA Region IV RECCWG members formed an auxiliary communications working group to improve the relationship between agencies at all levels and its auxiliary communications volunteers. Steve Waterman, K4CJX, a RECCWG member, was asked to chair this working group. Although the FEMA Region IV RECCWG working group has only recently formed, its members have already identified the following objectives:
Provide a model plan of action for agencies at all levels who wish to enhance their staff by adding non-paid, qualified auxiliary communications (AuxComm) volunteers. This would include mainly, but not exclusively, interested Amateur radio operators local to these civil organizations, and their critical infrastructure partners. It would include sample county and State operations plans that includes ongoing participation of these volunteers in a meaningful way.
Promote the education of auxiliary communication volunteers through inclusion of FEMA on-line NIMS courses, specific agency “101” training, and relevant classroom courses such as ICS-300, COML, the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) AuxComm course, and periodic exercises. The objective is to familiarize the auxiliary communications volunteer with the NIMS Incident Command System (ICS) process, and how the supported agency/office works within the ICS framework.
Define productive ways in which AuxComm volunteers may interact with agencies, including County “Reserve” groups, ARRL ARES groups, Ham Clubs, and others that can be brought into the methodology of the soliciting agency. In other words, define common processes that can be devised to enhance a smooth working relationship between AuxComm groups and the organizations they wish to support. Establishing and maintaining relationships between agency personnel and the AuxComm Volunteers is the key to effective support;
Define obligation and liability issues for both Agencies and AuxComm volunteers.
Define services needed by the agency wishing to utilize AuxComm support. There are several pathways in which these groups may be able to provide effective communications transport layers for these agencies where and when needed. Example: deploying the use of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Communications Coordinating Shared Resource program (NCC SHARES), MARS, use of the Amateur Radio Spectrum under Part 97, and the agency’s own FCC Public Safety spectrum, etc.
Determine an effective method of disseminating the findings and material resulting from the working group's efforts, which will benefit those who are not now deploying AuxComm personnel.
Seek out examples of successful statewide and regional amateur radio programs in order to incorporate best practices and improve standardization nationally.
This RECCWG Working Group has a diverse membership including representatives form State emergency agencies, ARRL leadership, FEMA Regional staff, AuxComm instructors, Statewide Interoperable Communications coordinators (SWIC0, I.T and Tribal representatives. As this FEMA Region IV RECCWG Working Group progresses, it will provide further information. If you would like information about this group or the FEMA Region IV RECCWG please contact Donnie Monette, Donnie.Monette@fema.dhs.gov.
Republished with permission from the FEMA Regional Emergency Communications Coordination Working Group (RECCWG) Newsletter.
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