ARRL ARES E-Letter Outtakes

Excerpts from The ARES E-Letter – January 15, 2020

by Rick Palm

FEMA Updates Community Emergency Response Team Training

FEMA conducted a webinar on January 8 on the release of the updated Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Basic training curriculum. Presenters shared the reasons for the changes, highlighted best practices, and shared impacts of the updated training. Participants learned how trainers can deliver the updated training and how to order materials. This was the second of two webinars about the updated CERT Basic training curriculum, though the webinars presented similar information. Recordings of the webinars can be found here.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. CERT offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that professional responders can rely on during disaster situations, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks.

The updated CERT Basic Training can be found here. It features a revised Disaster Medical Operations section, updated Terrorism and CERT section, and new hazard-specific annexes. Find the new curriculum materials online and order free copies from the FEMA publications warehouse beginning January 8, 2020. The CERT Basic Training includes research-validated guidance for CERT programs to teach members what to do before, during, and after the hazards their communities may face. The materials in the training include instructor guides, participant manuals, and hazard annex slide decks. The FEMA Independent Study IS-317: Introduction to CERT can be taken online before or during training.

Intergovernmental Advisory Committee to the FCC Files Recommendation, Reports on Amateur Radio Disaster Communications Capability

The Intergovernmental Advisory Committee to the FCC filed Advisory Recommendation No: 2019-3 in the Matter of Intergovernmental Disaster Response Coordination, which included a discussion of the Amateur Radio service. [See below for excerpts]. The mission of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee is to provide aid to the Commission on the many telecommunications issues affecting local, state and Tribal governments that are within the jurisdiction of the FCC. The IAC is composed of elected officials of municipal, county, state, and Tribal governments.

From the filing: “One of the mainstays for many decades in disaster communications in a recovery has been the use of amateur radio operators, often referred to as ham operators. Ham radio’s ability to operate when other telecommunications systems cannot is critical to understand in this discussion… Generally, amateur radio operators assist when other means of communications are down or overloaded. Ham radio resources are available for emergency communications support to any public service agency and can bridge interoperability gaps between agencies on a local, Tribal, and/or state level. Potential ham deployment locations include, but are not limited to, auxiliary command posts, emergency operations centers, emergency shelters, evacuation sites, fire stations, medical facilities, mobile disaster vehicles, police stations, public works sites, and volunteer intake centers. They can also be deployed to provide links to: Create communications links between similar agencies across political boundaries, especially where there are misalignment’s in frequency bands and modes; Establish communications in locations outside the existing coverage areas of public service and commercial communications systems; “Shadow” critical public officials and emergency management personnel to facilitate constant and rapid contact; Monitor critical infrastructure (such as highways and bridges) and provide periodic situation reports; Staff operation posts (river levels, flooding, damaged areas) and provide periodic situation reports; Every hospital has a ham radio station on premises and there are volunteer hams ready to operate (they are generally not hospital employees). These systems are tested on a very regular basis. A typical emergency activity might be identifying which hospitals have the available capacity to accept the injured after an event.

“Another overlooked ham application is continuing communications support after an event. An example of this would be after a hurricane has blown through and fires are out etc. There is still no power or phone service. Hams have provided on-going coordination to families outside the disaster area.

“As a communications provider, ham radio falls under the Emergency Support Function #2 umbrella. Planning for a ‘when all else fails’ communications scenario is essential for all jurisdictions.”

[View the entire report at It’s worth your time. – ed.]

K1CE for a Final

University of Mississippi Professor of Emergency Management Mike Corey, KI1U, has consistently recommended that as a collateral part of any amateur emergency communicator’s training regimen they should simply get-on-the-air. He is right. Arguably the most critically important asset an ARES or other emergency communications organization member can bring to the table is operating skill. This was brought home to me personally on Christmas Day as I participated in the Great South Bay Amateur Radio Club (Long Island, New York) Christmas Birthday Special Event (K2B). Calling CQ and trying to manage small pileups made me realize that my operating was, well, rusty. At the end of the day, I had gained some of my proficiency back, but I have a ways to go. My New Year’s Resolution is to simply operate more. – K1CE