Setting up a home emergency operations center is something that is fluid and in this series I will be discussing theory, placement and planning along with construction pics of my operation center(s) and how each one plays out. Why would one want a communications center in the first place when we have our ham shacks? Well the main difference between a shack and operations center is being able to operate 24/7 whether or not you do so is your choice. The second one is that you can plan to help and assist your local EMA and groups with disasters in your area or surrounding town. Finally you can communicate with other hams and family members in the event of a full scale black autumn event. Now with that out of the way we can dive into a little history of Hams helping others and some of the groups that make up today's emergency communicators..
A Little History: Dating back to WW2 ham radio operators have assisted neighbors, government and country though ham radio. I got it's start through the old Civil defense during the start of the nuclear era and lasted until the mid 80's where the Civil Defense was decommissioned in the mid 80's. In early 2000's the FEMA/EMA era began to take shape and of course ham radio operators were there ready and willing to provide back up communications. Now we flourish with different groups such as A.R.E.S. (Amateur Radio Emergency Services), Skywarn, R.A.C.E.S (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency services) and Auxcomm Here is a little background into the groups as they would operate or be Deployed.
Skywarn: This group of hams operates mostly during severe weather and are trained by the National Weather Service to provide ground truth data in real time during severe weather threats such as tornadoes. hurricanes, and other mass weather events including blizzards. They also offer assistance to the EMA post event should more weather possibly hamper rescue operations.
A.R.E.S: This group of hams are called up by the EMA to assist in providing emergency communications, help find victims, and help provide damage reports coordinating clean up efforts. This group also provides communications with shelters, the Red Cross. hospitals and the EMA should the communications grid go down or be destroyed. As a side note this is another reason to have a home EOC as you can provide help to others and be close to your family.
R.A.C.E.S: A carry over from the Civil Defense there are some groups still out there operating but there are no new RACES licenses being handed out and most still operate under the EMA or even the ARES coordinator.
Auxcomm: This is still somewhat confusing to me Some have formed into groups and others just get the training and stay with the other groups but all I can say is it is worth the training to sharpen your radio skill set.
This concludes the first part of my series on setting up a home EOC and hopefully I inspired you to either join a local group or if you are part of one maybe consider setting up your shack to be able to provide 24/7 comms. In the next blog post I will cover the meat and potatoes of planning and designing your home EOC. Until next time remember God is in control, stay healthy and stay blessed.