The response: Fine. This field is broad enough for more than one perspective, more than one kind of service. You do what interests you and let those who DO understand the Mutual Aid system work together within that system.
Such criticism of communications mutual aid usually resolves around the perceived delay of an authorized person requesting (authorizing) the services of the unit. What is not understood is this: when there is trust, familiarity and an on-going relationship between the agency and the leaders of the volunteer communications unit, there is NO delay. In fact, the Radio Officer is usually authorized to activate whatever part of the unit may be justified, and then inform his/her superior in the agency of that action.
Of course, that does not satisfy those who don't want to wait for anyone to call them. They just want to go, even if not wanted or needed! Obviously no one can satisfy that type of person, so they just don't get registered in ACS and RACES units.
The huge benefits of the seemingly complex structure of mutual aid procurement and response appears to get lost on some people. The system is less complex that it seems, and works fine with registered unpaid staff of agencies; but for people who are always outside of the agency it just doesn't seem to work out. They apparently can NOT discern WHY it works for fire and law; and that it DOES work EQUALLY WELL in telecommunications.
In California, mutual aid is now MANDATED under the new SEMS legislation (Standardized Emergency Management System) that goes into effect 12/1/96. Jurisdiction ACS and RACES plans are being updated to meet this requirement. A complete copy of a mutual aid standard operating procedure for communications units in California is on the ACS Web page.