Morristown, TN

Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League and ARES has an excellent course titled "Introduction to Emergency Communication (EC-001) at a cost of $50 for members $85 for mon-members.  The course has 6 sessions with 29 lesson topics.  They state that it takes over 45 hours to complete and recommend it be taken over a 9 week period to pace yourself properly.  You are assigned a mentor who will be your resource for any questions you have about the course content.     You might think this is the place to start, but this is not the recommendation of many.  The first place is to start with the free classes of the National Incident Management System.  As a US citizen, you have already paid for these.  So they are free. 

An Intro to the NIMS classes and the reasons was given on the Emergency Communications page on this site, so I will save the space here.  On many disaster sites now, volunteers will not be allowed on the site with out approved credentials thru an approved agency.  Most all of those agencies are required or are requiring completion of classes from NIMS to allow you on a site.  This was explained on the EC page, but remember, it is our responsiblity to "BE PREPARED" and part of the preparation is to know how to act, know the chain of command, know who to follow, know how to follow, know who is responsible, all thing that are part of being prepared and taught in the NIMS ICS classes. 

For Hamblen County AuxCom, we ask that you complete ICS 100.b, Introduction to Incident Command System, ICS 200.b ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents, ICS 700.a National Incident Management System (NIMS) An Introduction, and ICS 800.b National Response Framework, An Introduction.   As you see from the titles, these classes introduce you to the National system, you are not expected to be an expert, just know that someone else is, and you are there to help. NIMS helps to define the chain of command along with the levels of responsiblity. 

One of the greatest issues in Hurricane Katrina was determining who was responsible. 
(When trained disaster personel saw that Mayor Ray Nagel had set up his Emergency Operations Center in the 2nd floor Bar of a Hotel, you knew the people in New Orleans were SOL.  He was not prepared to accept responsibility.)  I started my emergency volunteer work 30 years ago with the American Red Cross and in the first class we were taught, your local chapter is responsible for the first 48 hours, because it takes everybody else that long to get there!  Thing have actually improved with TEMA and FEMA and 48 can some times be less than 24, but still yet, local volunteers and local responders are the first on the scene and have to notify others before they even know to head our way. 

Once you have taken and successfully passed each ICS class, print a copy of your certificate and keep for your file.  The agency that will be responsible for certifying you will be able to obtain this information.  This along with your personal information including medical information will be recorded on you ID card that is held when you check into a site.  You will learn more about that in your training.  

A summary of the four classes is listed below.  In addition to the NIMS training, local training will be held in various settings.  Realize, anytime we provide communications to a group of individuals, agencies, organizations, or nets, we are training.  Knowing how to use a new radio is alwas a must, so it is training.  Hamblen County AuxCom supports the National Weather Service and Skywarn.  Training as a qualified storm spotter is held each year by the National Weather Service.  Every ham should at sometime in their life, qualify as a storm spotter.  We provide operators at the National Weather Service Office in Morristown when ever the Official Spotter Network is activated.  Multiple operators man three VHF stations and one UHF station set up in the offices of NWS and relay information between spotters and the meteorologist live during the weather events.   You are invaluable as the eyes of NWS.  Hamblen County AuxCom also supports the East Tennessee Hospital Net.  We provided operators at Morristown-Hamblen Hospital and Lakeway Hospital for net checkins and during activations.  The Hamblen County AuxCom also has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Knoxville Office of the Tennessee Department of Health which serves the 15 counties surrounding Knox County (excludes Knox County and Knoxville) and agrees to assist in providing licensed operators to Hamblen County and any additional county where service is needed and operators can be provided.  

When it comes to emergency services, I know of no one that is over trained or over educated.  They may not have found the emergency they have been prepared to serve, but it will come.  With that thought, feel free to take additional on-line free classes in NIMS.  There is well over 100 classes you can take ranging from "Animals in Disasters" to  "Decision Making and Problem Solving".  You may decide to change careers and find work in the field of service to the community that requires knowledge in these fields.