Updated: Dec 27, 2020
Emergency Management Training and Certification, Alignment with National Incident Management System (NIMS), Use of Modern Emergency Communications Technology, and Broadened Mission Attracts Volunteers and Better Serves the Public.
MERRIVILLE, Ind. (Sept. 22, 2020) - Amateur (Ham) Radio Operators with a concern for the vulnerability of cellular and satellite telephone and text messaging, public safety / 9-1-1 communications, increasing technology and complexities and internet connectivity which makes them prone to failure or becoming overloaded during periods of emergency or disaster reestablished the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) organization to serve local, county and regional governmental and non-governmental public safety, critical infrastructure, and emergency management related organizations and partners throughout the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) District 1 geographical area. District 1 includes Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Newton counties.
Official governmental and non-governmental reports show the potential overloading or failure of the critical communications systems during peak periods of use experienced during unusual emergencies or disaster is not far fetched. While backup systems exist, they too rely on vulnerable technological systems, circuits, software and computers.
The Amateur Radio Operators, most often referred to by the nickname - Hams, are anything but amateurs. The word "amateur" has been in use for nearly a century to distinguish that the radio operators are not paid, although they are certainly professional in their knowledge of electronics, technology and are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), following successful completion of a written exam. The ARES volunteers are a diverse group, including firefighters, paramedics, emergency managers, information technology experts, government workers, medical providers, and everyday workers, retirees and more. All have the common interest in using their communications and technological skills to go beyond the hobby aspect. They use them to help save lives and minimize destruction during an emergency or disaster.
“ARES volunteers also participate in emergency exercises, experiment with new technology, discover how existing technology can be exploited in more meaningful ways, and will supply radio voice, data and digital communications for special events, such as marathons, parades, and other special events throughout the year.”
ARES District 1 uses modern digital radio communications technology to ensure reliable, interoperable and timely email and other data is transmitted and received from any fixed, mobile or portable (temporary field location) within the District and beyond, at a far lower cost, with less equipment, in less time and without any infrastructure during times of contingency, emergency or disaster than any public safety, emergency management or commercial entity could accomplish without duplicating the ARES capabilities on their own.
Due to a lack of willing volunteers, ARES in the District 1 geographical area has been absent for at least five, and as long as seven to ten years in some counties. With the ever increasing need to provide emergency communications when normal and backup communications systems get overloaded or fail, the group of Hams decided it was time to revive ARES. Since then, the group has grown and continues to grow as more people become aware of it.
People (age 16 and up) without an FCC Ham license can also become affiliated with the ARES group. Users of Family Radios (FRS), the type often associated with camping, biking, hiking or other activities and purchased at a department store without a need for an FCC license, as well as General Mobile Radio System (GMRS) and people without any radio are welcomed to affiliate with ARES District 1. For anyone interested in getting a Ham license, the group provides training and mentoring to help them succeed.
ARES District 1 Volunteers do More Than Just Emergency Communications
While supplying, augmenting, and supporting modern, interoperable, and resilient critical contingency, emergency, and supplemental (auxiliary) communications is the primary focus, ARES District 1 volunteers also serve as force multipliers for public safety and emergency management organizations by providing trained and certified personnel to work in a variety of positions within an Emergency Operations Center, at an Incident Command Post or in a Incident Command or Communications Vehicle. Additionally, ARES volunteers trained by the National Weather Service (NWS) serve as "weather spotters," providing vital, real-time severe weather observation data and damage reports via a two-way radio system shared by the spotters and the two NWS Weather Service Forecast Offices that covers the area.
ARES volunteers also participate in emergency exercises, experiment with new technology, discover how existing technology can be exploited in more meaningful ways, and will supply radio voice, data and digital communications for special events, such as marathons, parades, and other special events throughout the year.
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