The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) or any other local or national organization is eligible for membership in the ARES. The only qualification, other than possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve. Because ARES is an amateur service, only amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.
There are four levels of ARES organization--national, section, district and local. National emergency coordination at ARRL Headquarters is under the supervision of the ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager, who is responsible for advising all ARES officials regarding their problems, maintaining contact with federal government and other national officials concerned with amateur emergency communications potential, and in general with carrying out the League's policies regarding emergency communications.
At the section level, the Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) is appointed by the Section Manager (SM, who is elected by the ARRL members in his or her section) and works under his/her supervision. In most sections, the Section Manager delegates to the SEC the administration of the section emergency plan and the authority to appoint District (DEC) and local Emergency Coordinators (EC). Some of the ARRL sections with capable Section Emergency Coordinators are well-organized. A few have scarcely any organization at all. It depends almost entirely on who the section members have put into office as Section Manager and whom he/she has appointed as Section Emergency Coordinator.
It is at the local level where most of the real emergency organizing gets accomplished, because this is the level at which most emergencies occur and the level at which ARES leaders make direct contact with the ARES member-volunteers and with officials of the agencies to be served. The local EC is therefore the key contact in the ARES.
The Emergency Coordinator is appointed by the Section Emergency Coordinator, usually on the recommendation of the DEC. Depending on how the SEC has set up the section for administrative purposes, the EC may have jurisdiction over a small community or a large city, an entire county or even a group of counties. Whatever jurisdiction is assigned, the EC is in charge of all ARES activities in his area, not just one interest group, one agency, one club or one band.
ARES amateurs are trained and skilled communicators. The emergency management community recognizes these two key words when talking about the Amateur Radio Service. Amateurs must use their skills to help the agencies provide the information that needs to be passed, while at the same time showing their talents as trained communicators who know how to pass information quickly and efficiently.
Regardless of the format used, the appropriate procedures cannot be picked up solely by reading or studying. There is no substitute for actual practice. The Scott County ARES Training Net meets weekly to help members sharpen their emergency communications skills. Avoid complacency and practice your skills on a regular basis with other operators whose style of operating you get to know.
When the chips are down, we perform the way we practice. Regular practice results in accurate rapid communication.
MN ARES Officials
Skip Jackson KS0J
KS0J (at) arrl.net
Dan Anderson KD0ASX
State Emergency Coordinator
KD0ASX (at) MinnesotaARES.org
Ann Foster K0ANN
Metro District Emergency Coordinator
K0ANN (at) arrl.net
Bob Reid N0BHC
Scott County Emergency Coordinator
N0BHC (at) arrl.net