The following is extracted from a pamphlet prepared by the State Insurance Office, titled: Information for the Disaster Service Worker about Workers' Compensation Insurance:
"A disaster service worker is anyone who is registered with a disaster council approved by the California Emergency Council, or any person ordered to perform services during a 'state of war emergency' or any 'state of emergency' or 'local emergency' by a person or body having authority to command the aid of citizens to carry out assigned duties.
"A disaster service worker might be a reserve police-officer, an auxiliary fire-fighter, an emergency welfare worker, a communications specialist, a medical worker, a transportation specialist, a clerk, or anyone qualified to perform services in one of a number of fields.
"Any disaster service worker is eligible for workers compensation benefits while performing assigned duties or undergoing any authorized training activities. Any injury under these circumstances is covered no matter where it occurs.......If you are injured you will receive all the medical care your condition requires, at no cost to you."
"If you are engaged in regularly scheduled disaster service, including training, your coverage is only during such activities - not while you are en-route between your home and the place to which you are to report for service or training. However, if you are a disaster service worker suddenly called to duty during an emergency, your workers' compensation coverage starts when you leave your house and lasts until you are able to return, as long as you make no route deviations for personal reasons.
"The State Compensation Insurance Funds pays workers' compensation benefits to disaster service workers. The State Fund is a state division within the Department of Industrial Relations. The money for these benefits comes from special funds appropriated by the Legislature." [End of quoted extracts.]
The document that assures how this applies to hams in the service of their communities is the model Auxiliary Radio Service plan (which may be further specified as RACES) - titled the model Santa Luisa Plan. It contains protective enabling wording specifying the disaster service worker coverage for those properly registered there-under.
The actual physical process of DSW registration is specified by law and the State Office of Emergency Services. There must be an approved official authorized by the appropriate jurisdiction whose signature is required on the application and DSW ID card.
In some jurisdictions the DSW ID card, usually a photo ID card, is the only identification issued, even to a communication specialist registered under the ARS/RACES plan. Other jurisdictions may issue a separate Auxiliary Radio Service (or equivalent, such as RACES) ID card for their "Class A" registrants.
Typically, a jurisdiction's Auxiliary Radio Service plan will specify the class or classes of volunteers. A "Class A" volunteer is usually the highest priority, responding as and where called in time of need. The "Class A" volunteer is normally given total access to the jurisdiction's facilities (including highly sensitive areas such as an EOC, Sheriff's Comm Center, key administrative offices); hence some form of personal background investigation is a precondition to issuance of the "Class A" ID.
"Class A" (active) responders are intended to be the best that a jurisdiction has, so as a matter of policy they may establish a mandatory training standard before issuing a "Class A" ID card. They may additionally require on-going training to retain the jurisdiction's trained volunteer or similar government ID card.
A "Class B" volunteer may be simply registered as a Disaster Service Worker in some form of retainable file that provides the local jurisdiction with the essential data. They may be given a DSW ID card but no Auxiliary Radio Service, RACES, or government ID card. If needed in a mutual aid situation they might be issued a written resource order to go to an assignment if deemed adequately qualified for that purpose.
If your jurisdiction's plan varies significantly from the Santa Luisa plan, or has not been recently undated, you might want to revise it. The Santa Luisa plan was updated in May 1992 with significant revisions.
- - - Cary Mangum, Chief State Radio Officer, W6WWW