Why ARES needs you and you need ARES

The disaster unfolding in Haiti has just begun. Tuesday’s devastating earthquake was only the beginning of the misery that will befall the Haitian nation over the next months and years. As vice-president of public relations for Radio Amateurs of Canada I’ve been busy keeping in touch with other amateur radio and non-governmental agencies here in Canada and internationally who are involved in Haiti. There’s lots happening behind the scenes and I trust we’ll be hearing a lot more about amateur radio involvement in the coming days and weeks.

I’m learning lots of lessons that I’d like to share some of my thoughts:

  1. Disasters come in many forms and we are not immune. It, whatever it is, could happen here tomorrow;
  2. When it happens here we need to be absolutely self-sufficient for at least 72 hours;
  3. Before it happens here we need to have developed some sort of a command structure* and loose infrastructure of participants;
  4. As it happens here we need to be capable of deploying ourselves rapidly and in an organized fashion;
  5. Deployment means we need to be able to support ourselves in the field and create a working radio network that serves those afflicted;
  6. Supporting ourselves includes food, water, shelter and, of course, equipment**. Safety of personnel must remain a top priority***;
  7. Equipment includes a flashlight, GPS hand unit, multi-tool, 2-meter rig (or dual-band) and 12-volt power plug, and maybe an HF rig****;
  8. Prior to any of these plans we need a competent leadership that can work with non-governmental agencies, the military and civil authorities*****;
  9. We also need lots and lots of semi-trained and willing hams. This is not a time for on-the-job training;
  10. To accomplish the above we need to join the Amateur Radio Emergency Service in our local communities today.

* This is where ARES comes in. Like it or not, it’s the best initiative we have.

** I’ve got a couple of 2-meter rigs sitting around. I’m going out today to buy a tool box to start a “GO” kit.

*** Many well-intentioned hams want to go to Haiti to help but right now the country is not safe enough.

**** Rural Haiti is semi-mountainous. VHF/UHF may not work outside of the cities. HF maybe needed.

***** Well-meaning but unknown groups aren’t likely to be included in the official relief effort.

So to conclude: I am a member of my local ARES group. But I’ve been a non-participating member for some years not. Back in the “old days” I was an active ARES member and was a volunteer with Emergency Measures Ontario. The Haitian disaster reminds me of just how much I need to be an active ARES member and how much ARES needs amateurs just like me. If you want to help out during times of need, you can start today by joining your local ARES group. They’d love to hear from you.

5 Responses to “Why ARES needs you and you need ARES”

  • Peter

    Your post is excellent. You have captured the key elements that are required for Amateur radio to be accepted and used; planning and building relationships in advance is the starting point.

    I liked your comment about ” create a working radio network that serves those afflicted”. Too many Amateurs want to do what they want to do, which is often not what is needed or wanted.

    Your comment “This is where ARES comes in. Like it or not, it’s the best initiative we have” is very true. Amateurs who are not part of their local AERS or other Amateur emergency communications group are invisible to the clients they claim they will serve and to the Amateurs who will actually be activating in an emergency.

    ARES needs people who can and will do things. Some need to be leaders, but most need to be comitted to working. The results of the group depend on the input of the group.

    Once again, great post!

    Peter – VE3BQP
    EC Ottawa ARES

  • Oregon has now placed it’s new laws in affect,regarding to 2-way mobile radio use.
    Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/09reg/measpdf/hb2300.dir/hb2377.a.pdf

    Getting rid of our older hands mikes while driving, is spreading fast. It’s now hit the U.S.A. in the state of Oregon. They now require the usage of all 2-way mobile radios, to operate “Hands Free”. It’s spreading, and spreading fast, unless we star pulling together as one, and pushing for exemptions from these new laws. Those in Canada, that are now exempted, and allowed to use their regular hand mikes, will soon see their exemptions overturned, and laws such as that in Ontario will be the same all across Canada. Either begin pulling together as one, or all of us will have to operate a mobile in a Hands free mode. 73′s Wayne

  • Peter, you are to be commended for helping to heighten awareness of what is certainly the most important role that Amateur Radio can fulfill. Emergency Management Ontario (formerly Emergency Measures Ontario) operates an amateur radio station in the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre and is fully aware of the importance of ARES. In fact, ARES operators are employed during various emergency exercises carried out through the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre. Now, EMO even has licensed Amateur Radio operations among its staff.

    The main point here, which you make very well, is that if we truly wish to live up to the spirit of Amateur Radio, we should all be personally prepared for emergencies AND be ready to serve ARES.

    Kudos on your own personal preparations. You have prompted me to do some thinking…


    Joe, VE3LNU

  • Thanks to another amateur, that gave me reason to search farther, and deeper into the internet on Oregon’s new cell phone and 2-way radio laws, I found this website, that says the complete opposite of the other listing I posted. Not wanting to give fasle infromation here on RAC’s blog, I thought it best to post it as well, and let those of you decide which site is the true cell phone and 2-way radio laws of Oregon. The fact still remains, we must all work together and get Ontario to exempt those of us in amateur radio in Bill 118, who use mobile transmitters. We still need to stand together as one large body, and get Ontario to change their past decision, to allow us to remain using our standard old mikes, the same as we always have.
    73 Wayne

  • sent an app to the local ares to join several months ago . havent heard from them . mute point now as my employment changed and i may be moving to usa later this year . maybe ares have too many in this area and dont need my/more help ? when i get to the states i will join ares there and help out in that region . ares is a very good and worthwhile addition to amateur radio activities . (as is canwarn and skywarn) personally i believe some form of ares emergency communications training should be part of the basic exam . once licenced then the individual decides to continue with ares or not . then when the BIG one comes WE are ALL ready .


Leave a Reply