There have been several messages on both the Amateur Radio and Civil Air Patrol packet systems about jump teams -- people and equipment who can respond some distance to serve for an indefinite period. Boy, am I happy to see this! It means that more people are recognizing what is needed and what can be done. Here, we call it Mutual Aid and the responders strike teams. This has been going on in some Western states for decades. We're talking about requested and authorized responders, of course, never self-dispatched resources.
Please keep in mind that my comments are confined to volunteers in government service. Definitely not the come-if-I-feel- like-it or the come-out-if-the-situation-is-really-bad individuals. Sure, there's a place for those people but not in government public safety communications such as the RACES, CAP and the like.
Do you have to pay such volunteers? Let's look at any volunteer search and rescue group. Everyone in it joined to serve well and often. At any hour of the day or night. They WANT to be called out. The more often the better. It's the same with the communications volunteers we work with.
Is it easy to recruit such people? Yes it is, but it takes effort as 19 out of every 20 potential volunteer applicants turn it down because this level of commitment is simply not their cup of tea.
Some messages said that "all volunteers aren't available when we need them." That's probably true for the majority of all casual volunteers. Not so for the committed volunteers with whom same.gency works. We can only hope that you recruit and employ the
Most of our volunteers over the years have jobs they can get away from. Some devise creative reasons to respond. Others take time off on vacation or without pay. The bottom line is that everyone will respond and serves because they WANT to. That's called dedication and commitment. So is that required? No question!
Some governments encourage their employees to serve their civil defense in emergencies without being penalized in pay or vacation time. This is good planning.
A few reports and feedback commented that their local government has no such volunteer program nor does it want one. That's unfortunate. A wealth of talent is out there ready to serve for the asking. When it isn't tapped and asked to serve is sometimes because the government has no one with the time, interest, and ability to be the program spark-plug. Without that a program will fail or never get started. On occasion I've spent 1- 2 days with several jurisdictions around the country to overcome their natural resistance and start up a program. Recruiting the right spark-plug keeps the program going.
Many communications enthusiasts have approached a government, offered services, and maybe even signed a Memorandum of Understanding -- only to be told, "Don't call us. We'll call you."
And that's the end of that. From a distance it's difficult to assess if it's the jurisdiction's fault, the volunteers' fault, or both.
--- Stanly Harter, KH6GBX