If it were a real emergency......

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KD7YVV, Oct 5, 2008.

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  1. KD7YVV

    KD7YVV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'll be there.

    I've noticed over the last few years I've been a ham that during exercises
    either set up locally or during a national Simulated Emergency Test, that
    hams who are part of ARES, when called to participate in an exercise respond
    with "If it's a real emergency I'll be there."

    I'm sure that should a disaster happen, a lot of hams will remember that they
    are part of ARES and want to help. Wanting to help is not a bad thing mind you.

    My thought is this, if you haven't taken time out to train, learn new software,
    and learn new procedures that may have been implemented since the last
    time you trained, then in an actual emergency situation, you're really not going
    to be a part of the solution. This is like saying, I'm a fireman, if there's a real
    fire, I'll be there, or a paramedic, if it's a real medical emergency, I'll be there.

    So the question is, why do we train? Why do we hold exercises?
    Why do we hold drills? We do this for the same reason police, fire and medical
    people do. When there is an actual emergency, the training you've taken
    automatically kicks in. You don't have to think about what to do next,
    or at worst, ask what does this button do?
    During an emergency really isn't the best time to bring the ARES member
    up to speed on new procedures.
    That's like teaching a new CPR technique to a paramedic while the patient
    is lying on the ground in cardiac arrest.

    I recently watched an exercise where a plane had "crashed".
    They used an actual piece of fuselage, rolled fire trucks, ambulances,
    and even went so far as to have "victims" with realistic looking burns
    and other injuries.

    Why go through all that trouble? Simple answer.
    So when the real thing happens, training kicks in.

    There are two extremes, people who live, eat, and breathe EMCOMM
    training and readiness every waking moment, and people who join their
    local ARES, then never show up for meetings or training.

    One line of the Amateur's code says we are balanced.
    We balance our hobby with other things in our lives.

    Granted, if you're part of ARES and an exercise comes up and you're
    recovering from surgery or are ill, then naturally you would decline.

    Also, if you have to work, you have to work. Gotta put food on the table.
    (Unless you have an understanding boss who will let you off)

    It is also understood that hams have lives, Johnny's ballgame, Suzie's
    ballet etc. etc. The weekend is usually the time most families spend time
    together and do things.

    If Johnny's ballgame or Suzie's ballet is more important to you when you get
    a call for training, that's fine too. It's a decision you make.

    By looking at meeting records and training records, the agencies we serve
    as ARES will know which members they can count on, and which members
    they can send home.

    It's just my opinion, but "I'm at Johnny's ballgame, but if it were a real
    emergency, I'll be there." is a royal slap in the face of people who HAVE
    taken time out of their lives to keep up on the latest procedures and
    training.
    It's also a slap in the face to those who have taken the time to plan the
    exercise, allocate resources for it, and plan for you to be there.

    I have to commend one ham for his honesty.
    He actually said to me when our exercise was over, "You know, I would've
    rather been home watching football than come out in this nasty weather
    today." So I asked him why he came and his answer was, that he was a
    little rusty on some procedures and wanted to refresh his memory.
    Did he have to? No. But he realized that in order to best serve the
    agency ARES says it will serve, that his training needed to be refreshed.
    So he took time out of his life and took advantage of the exercise and
    additional training offered.

    Maybe ARES membership cards need to expire like first aid/cpr cards.
    I know in my city, the agency ARES serves keeps track of such things.
    Who has CPR training? Who is a paramedic? Who has special training that
    could be of use?

    I know this sounds like a rant, but it isn't. It's a post meant to foster
    discussion and I am interested in the thoughts of others regarding this
    subject.

    Now for a little humor:

    I know hams in California, Oregon, and Washington have heard it,
    the "big one" is coming. Year after year, the "big one" is coming.
    Then you have an earthquake or wildfire. Was that the "big one"?
    Nope. But keep training and exercising, the big one is coming!
    Washington had the Nisqually Earthquake. Was that the "big one"?
    Nope. But keep training and exercising, the big one is coming!
    I don't know about you, but when the "big one" finally does come, I
    have one little teeny tiny question. WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?!?!?!?!

    As a wise Italian ham once said to me, work happy, enjoy the day,
    and keep smiling. It makes people wonder what you're up to.

    --KD7YVV, Kirkland, WA
     
  2. N2RJ

    N2RJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I hope you have your flame suit and don't mind being called a "whacker".
     
  3. N8YX

    N8YX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ah...yep...

    [​IMG]
     
  4. KJ5T

    KJ5T Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    And I hope you are not trying to say that those people who get involved with their local ARES and focus on Emergency Communications are "whackers".

    Part 97.1(a) reads that emergency communications is a core principle of why the amateur radio service exists.

    KD7YVV:

    As for your post, you will always find people who sign up to be a member of an organization but that is not active. In fact I never signed up for ARES as many hams haven't, it isn't because we don't see (or that may be the case for some) a value in Emergency Communications; however, there are many different aspects of the hobby and some people don't enjoy doing only Emergency Communications. In the end, those of us that don't "live and breath emcomm" are still likely to assist if needed during a real emergency. I mean as for providing Emergency Communications, don't hams improve their operating ability everytime they are on the radio? I know a lot of hams who could get a station on the air and be passing traffic in no time who aren't members of ARES and don't dedicate their entire ham career to emergency communications. There is nothing against you because that is the aspect of the hobby you have chosen to partake in; however, you shouldn't expect every ARES member and the like to "live and breath emcomm".
     
  5. KD7YVV

    KD7YVV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Flame suit?
    I've been called worse. Life is definitely too short to worry about things like that.

    --KD7YVV, Kirkland, WA
     
  6. KD7YVV

    KD7YVV Ham Member QRZ Page


    Quite true, I don't live and breathe emcomm either, but it seems after 9/11,
    a lot of the agencies ARES serves now require a certain level of training.
    My entire ham career isn't dedicated 100% to emcomm, I DO like contesting
    and busting through a pileup or two.

    I'm not saying that hams won't be able to help during an emergency,
    I'm just saying, if you sign up for ARES, and make it known you're interested
    in emcomm and serving your community, shouldn't you take the time to
    learn their procedures and how the agency works?

    I posted my message to foster discussion about this very thing.
    My point was, if you take the time to sign up, get on the city's call-out
    sheet, and then not show up for meetings or exercises, how is the agency
    you're supposed to be serving know you're dependable and reliable?

    Plus, isn't it a waste of time and resources to have 50+ people on your
    roster and only have around 9 or 10 show up for an exercise?
    Even if that exercise is only held once every 3 or 6 months or even once
    a year?

    n8yx: Nice pic of a lightbar. Fortunately, unless you're an emergency worker
    in the police, fire or medical profession, under no circumstances is your
    personal vehicle to be outfitted with lights, bells, sirens, whistles, as such
    to be made to appear or function as an emergency vehicle.
    At least that's the case here in Washington. I know of no law that says
    ARES members are more than ordinary citizens. Thank God for that.
    (Yes I have heard stories of overzealous hams who make things a lot worse
    than they really are.)

    I still am curious though, if ARES membership should expire every year
    and have to be renewed like first aid/cpr cards.
    I know here in Kirkland, we have to have City Worker Emergency Cards
    to even get access to the ham equipment we have in our firehouses.

    k5jt: I never said anything about a ham's technical ability to get a station
    on the air using spit and baling wire :).
    (Scotty voice: Captain! I canna do it! I've got to have mooore time!)

    True there are a lot of hams who can help out in an emergency who never
    have joined ARES and have no interest in doing so.

    My post was about hams who HAVE joined, yet once they've done so,
    they don't take advantage of training that is offered, remain on the roster
    and decline the calls of the agency they're supposed to be serving by
    responding with "If it were a real emergency....."

    Another point of my post was in the example of the plane crash exercise.
    By taking advantage of training being offered by your served agency,
    that agency will know how you will respond in a real emergency or disaster.
    Why? Because of the training itself.

    Also in my post, I said there is a broad spectrum of members, some who
    live and breathe emcomm every waking moment in one extreme, and
    in the other, people who have a passing interest and never pursue it.
    I'm interested in hearing from ARES members around the country to learn
    what works for your group and your served agency, what hasn't worked,
    and/or what training your served agency requires you to have.

    Nice discussion!

    --KD7YVV, Kirkland, WA
     
  7. N2RJ

    N2RJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not at all, just predicting what will be the reaction to this thread. I am in fact all in favor of ham radio having some minor role in emergency preparedness. I just don't think that we should make it our full time job.

    It's just a hobby, and honestly if you try to make it something more you are fooling yourself.
     
  8. NK0V

    NK0V Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ever notice how the emmcomers can never get past Part 97.1(a)?
    I do. This one line is their whole entire world. Never mind that it is only about 20 percent of what is listed, it is the only one that matters. As N2RJ has stated I also agree that a "minor" role is a good thing, however, we are constantly told we need have emmcom as the main and only focus. 100% percent of our efforts must be directed toward becoming the common carrier. I for one do not agree.
    I do agree with the origional post though. Training and preparedness are very important. Saying "I will show up if it is real" does not cut it. Yes there are some very intellegent persons out there who I feel will have NO problem at all getting on the air or being there in the real event. There is also another important thing that training will give us. That is knowing what "others" are capable of and have to offer. Face it, not everyone can build an antenna out of a bubble gum wrapper or copy 3 QSO's at once. But if I understand who I can rely in and trust in an event it makes me a better asset for the effort as a whole. By getting together we also know what needs to be worked on or addressed. As in my training with the FD and EMS, I would far rather make mistakes during training than the real event. Then usually the worst that happens is my ego is a bit damaged as I may catch some heat from my buddies, however, I learn and then know how to do it better ( CORRECTLY) the next time.
    I have also noticed that if the event does not result in great fanfare that some are mad. I take a marathon that the local hams helped out with this past summer. Most of us get out, help out wherever we can and at the end of the event go home. There were some that were miffed that we did not get a front page thank you in the local paper. They thought our efforts were worthy of a full color photo in the local paper. For silly, why do we need that. Do the job and go on your way at the end of that event. Some also see these little events as unimportant but I think they are very are helpful to the ultimate mission of AR. That is to help out and fufill a communication need. I understand that the local marathon is not the glory emmcom role some want but does that make it any less important?
    Anyway good food for thought kind of a post.
    Flame on....
    Arend
     
  9. AB9LZ

    AB9LZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I suspect you... and most "Emcommers" (I'm being nice and not using the "W" word here) completely miss the point as to why ham radio can be useful during an emergency. It stems from the natural resilience of a network that has *no* organization whatsoever... that is, there can be no central point of failure amongst us normally disinterested parties.

    Keep in mind, emergency scenario's can have infinite possibilities. Trying to predict, create a network for, and then train, will only serve to create a false sense of security.
    The organized groups that train, run the ever present risk of chaos should one part of the chain break down, and or, the scenario somehow doesn't quite fir the expectations of the "service".

    In short, good luck, I sleep well an night knowing that there are thousands of other hams out there like myself that could really care less about emcomm, but will probably be really useful should that day come that we really need them.

    73 m/4
     
  10. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Subscriber QRZ Page

    There are varying amounts Hams can help in an emergency. We have Wildfires down here so EMCOMM is frequently used in real situations. Some Hams can be deployed for several days to remote points providing lifelinks back to civilization. But others, like myself, can only do EMCOMM if it is AFTER work or weekends. During work hours, my employer could care less how much the town is burning down. I have had to disobey orders and go home to gather up belongs to evacuate a couple of times. Their attitude is "if the plant isn't on fire, GET YOUR A** Back to WORK BOY!!!!" SO in the 2003 firestorm, I got to play EMCOMM over the weekend, but had to be back to work Early monday morning. In the 2007 Firestorm, I had to take a day of Vacation to help out at a EVAC center! Retired Hams can devote much more time to EMCOMM!
     
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