ARRL East Bay Section

East Bay SEC Update

Posted by af6aq on August 17th, 2009

First let me thank you for your continued volunteer service in support of Emergency Communications. Your commitment and dedication is truly appreciated and has helped to make the communities within our section better prepared for any contingency.

As I am sure you are now aware I have been appointed the new Section Emergency Coordinator for the ARRL East Bay Section and I am sure you are wondering what I bring to the table. In a nutshell, I have a B.A. in Economics and Law form CSU Bakersfield, a Certificate in Emergency Management from Washington University, and have completed ICS 100-400, 700, 800…and a sprinkling of other EMI courses. I most recently served as the Emergency Coordinator – Training, for the Contra Costa County ARES®/ RACES program, and am a Lead Instructor and Incident Commander for the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District CERT program. I am currently working toward completion of the Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) credential.

My interest in Emergency Management began 20 years ago while working on the disaster response team of an international insurance company. I was on the ground shortly after the eye of Andrew destroyed south Florida and worked in the field in hardest hit areas around Homestead up through Kendall. I worked the Northridge Quake, along with a handful of severe summer storm events, some with hail the size of softballs. Fast forward to 2005, while watching hurricane Katrina on television, I made a conscious commitment to be better prepared and do what I could to protect myself and family from becoming disaster victims. My first step was to resupply the EQ kit I have kept ever since Northridge. Second, I became a ham radio operator. From there it mushroomed….CERT, ARES®, RACES, ICS, etc….to the point we are at today. So with the bio out of the way, let me tell you a little about where I think we are headed with our ARES organization in the East Bay Section.<

The past few weeks have been an exciting time for the East Bay ARES® community as we are now being looked at nationwide as an example of what a Volunteer Emergency Communications Service can provide to communities and served agencies.

My recent appointment to Section Emergency Coordinator dovetailed nicely with being selected to speak at this year’s National Conference on Community Preparedness sponsored by DHS and FEMA in Washington D.C. The topic of my presentation was ARES® integration into CERT during disaster operations. The presentation was overwhelmingly received by attendees at the conference, and many requests for help were directed toward our CERT team and ARES®/RACES group so that we could help others establish a similar cooperative effort in their communities.  Here in the East Bay Section, ARES® is taking an elevated role in the eyes of many Emergency Management professionals because ARES also provides a national framework, and it has an extremely flexible tasking capability.

The National CERT Office is rolling out a new CERT communications module that will standardize CERT communications capability on a foundational level. They have indicated that they will be working closely with us on training and how to integrate resources such as we are working on here in the East Bay Section, and most notably in the San Ramon Valley. We have a unique and exciting opportunity to show the rest of the nation what a truly outstanding ARES® organization we have here in the East Bay Section.

As a requirement of the served agency, individual ARES® members may be required to take back ground checks in order to fulfill their duties within a served agency. Such a requirement is not precluded by the ARRL, and allows for ARES® members to become registered Disaster Service Workers should the served agency want them to be. Any such requirement will need to be included in the MOU between the served agency and the ARRL, but it supports the direction and vision that we need to embrace as California moves to implement their volunteer mutual aid program in the next few months.

Which brings us to the California State Disaster Corps, as the new SEC, I will be asking you for ideas, concerns, criticisms with solutions, and the vision to help develop a section wide mutual aid “framework” that will fit into the States new Disaster Corp. program. While in D.C., I met with two of the Governor’s directors from CEMA (California Emergency Management Agency, formerly Cal OES) and we discussed how Amateur Radio might fit into this new volunteer (and totally voluntary) mutual aid concept that will be rolled out Statewide in the next few months. ACS which is the EmComm lead for the communications aspect of the project will be adopting the ARRL’s emergency communications basic and advanced courses as the standard for training, and one component of the typing level for statewide EmComm operators. The ability to provide and receive mutual aid on a section level among our 4 districts is the stepping stone to the larger effort of full integration into CEMA’s vision of a statewide mutual aid capability for volunteer organizations. This mutual aid concept using volunteers has already been used in Orange County with their CERT program where CERT was integrated into the CALFIRE ICS during the firestorms of 2007 and 2008. CERT provided critical logistics support during both fires and some CERT volunteers with highly specialized mapping and GIS skills were used in high profile positions within the logistics and planning sections. As emergency communicators we offer specialized and sought after skills that could someday be needed by our professional partners similar to those offered by CERT. ARES®, as evidenced by the response to the presentation in D.C., and the many meetings I had with government officials in our section, is moving in the direction that it appears government wants to be going with regard to auxiliary communications support. As part of California‘s ACS framework, ARES® in the East Bay Section is well positioned to take advantage of its relationship with CERT, Medical Reserve Corps, and Fire Corps. Our goal as a section is to become the leader in regional auxiliary emergency communications.

These are exciting times for ARES® as we now, more than at anytime in the past have been provided with a unique opportunity, and at the behest of our professional partners, to step up and provide the needed and necessary communications support for not only local programs, but for state and federal as well. This is a journey we will all shape together, and I look forward to the road ahead.

In closing, I am currently putting the finishing touches on an ARES®: East Bay Section website. I have made all reporting forms electronic now, so you can just go to the website, and in less than a minute submit your monthly reports. You will also have at your disposal an Emergency Managers Dashboard to get the latest information on incidents nationwide, and eventually any ARESMAT requests. I will also be sending for your review our new Section Emergency Operations Plan. This plan will be SLG 101 compliant and will meet all federal guidelines for emergency preparedness planning. From this plan I would ask that each of you begin gathering the necessary information relevant to your District/County for inclusion as an Appendix to the Section plan. I will brief you more on this topic at a later date.

Once again, I look forward to serving as your new SEC, and am always available to discuss any issues concerning ARES® or EmComm within the Section.

Herbert Cole
Section Emergency Coordinator
East Bay
ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio™
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