- A "declared emergency" IS NOT NEEDED to activate an EMCOM unit unless there is a state or local law that specifically requires that there be a declaration. There may be a few jurisdictions where this may apply, but by-and-large it does not.
- "Activation" can be a phone call to the Radio Officer as a 'heads-up'; or as a "come on in just-in-case", or "we'd sure appreciate your joining us at the meeting today." It does NOT have to be a "call out the troops!"
- A "COMMUNICATIONS" emergency does not need to exist first. EMCOM unit personnel have never required a "COMMUNICATIONS" emergency, although one may exist to a degree. However, if there FIRST had to be a full-blown communications emergency the agency may not be able to reach its unit's people. In fact, in one incident in which the agency waited too long they had to send their sheriff's deputies out by car to get their EMCOM people!
- The EMCOM unit can be utilized anytime the agency decides to do so unless a state law specifies otherwise. See "A" & "G".
- A prudent AGENCY official will notify at least the Radio Officer in ANY situation that any other response official is notified, even those situations where there is not yet a threat. Consider a hazmat spill. Many such reports are benign, but they can easily escalate into a major event explosively.
- Skywarn is an example of a use before an emergency. A tornado (or hurricane) may or may not become an emergency. While Skywarn is usually a stand-alone service, if a local jurisdiction wanted to include it as an EMCOM function, why should it be necessary to wait for the damage to start? It would not make sense. We use this to illustrate the fact that it's not necessary for the emergency to be in effect. A tornado or hurricane is potentially devastating. In yet another instance, should the community that is alerted for a possible flood wait until the levee breaks to call out its EMCOM unit? That wouldn't serve the possible need, would it?
- An aspect that some Amateur Radio Service licensees overlook is that there is a major difference in activating (involving) a unit, and operations ON the Amateur Frequencies. Some people seem to equate the two as one. FCC regulations only apply to actual usage of the Amateur frequencies - NOT to any other aspect of the units operations. While it MAY be that there will be a need to use the Amateur frequencies, it MAY be the unit personnel can provide better service using agency radios. More and more units are converting to the broader application of full support of ALL forms of Public Safety SYSTEMS (radio, cell, satellite, microwave, computer networks, etc.) and in the process, discovering a vastly rewarding involvement!
Query: "What type of COMMUNICATION emergency would be declared for the activation of the RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service)?"
Response: The situation is the same for any unit supplying emergency communications, not just the RACES, so let's talk in generic terms of EMCOM (emergency communication) units, whether the Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), RACES, or others: