"Who makes the decision to mobilize? Does RACES wait for a request from the emergency management agency, or do you or another RACES officer decide? The reason I ask is that hams tend (in my opinion) to be arguable and over-react in an emergency-type situation. Please do n't take this personally. You may be perfectly calm and level-headed, but I have seen all too many minor incidents escalated to "emergencies" by over-eager hams on the repeaters. I would insist upon interposing my own judgment as to the need for my services.
As to interposing one's own judgment; that is valid and is understood by most people. Still, since it is a personal decision and mind-set, there are those who are prepared to respond when officially called without regard to personal sacrifice; examples being Search and Rescue or Drowning Accident Recovery Teams. As dedicated unpaid professionals they serve when and where needed. Even so, they do NOT self activate or respond to an "over the air" request unless assigned and trained as a strike team which is purposely structured to respond in that manner.
Any government communications reserve, such as an Auxiliary Communications Service, RACES, or other designation, is activated by official authority, which can be accomplished in ways so as not to lose valuable response time. Ideally, it is at least partially activated whenever the agency prepares for a potential emergency or responds to an ensuing emergency. Whatever that procedure, it must be followed, just as with any other public safety response. In California and other states where a specified government response program exists, self activation can lead to serious consequences, ranging from interference and delay to loss of confidence in the very people that self-responded. Even so, there are those who argue for "self activation"; but in my experience it is usually from their own ego-need basis, not that of the local situation.
s/s Cary Mangum, LLB., J.D., W6WWW, State Chief Radio Officer.