Response: First, the need to have the unit must be recognized by some agency or jurisdiction that will become the unit sponsor.
Third, find and appoint a responsible volunteer leader who should have management and leadership experience and be willing and capable of working closely with the jurisdiction. Once these elements are in place, it's time to prepare a unit plan.
An EMCOMM unit plan is NOT a total and complete document that covers every aspect of unit operations and authority. Rather, it works best when it is a concise overview of the unit authority and essential elements. It is much clearer to put operating and administrative details in SEPARATE documents like a Standard Operating Procedure or SOP. Plans are typically for five years, while administrative, operating, and training procedures change often and are less confusing when separate from the plan.
Assuming a local, county, or state government wants the EMCOMM unit AS AN ELEMENT OF THAT GOVERNMENT, here is what can create a clear, concise, and workable plan.
Write out the purpose of the plan. It might be to "provide for participation of unpaid (volunteer) professional communications specialists, administrators, and FCC licensed operators for essential communications during periods of emergency, or events that may lead to such emergencies." Then list:
- Name, population, and square miles of the jurisdiction
- Emergency potentials that could affect the jurisdiction See ACS plans at acs.oes.ca.gov for examples we've used.
- List the jurisdictions (cities?) covered by the plan, and title of the emergency services directors, NOT the person's name. In some cases a county (or equivalent) may have areas, affiliates, or regions - with each unit in a cohesive plan for the entire area. This may be more responsive for small cities, whereas very large cities may have their own plan.
- Get a jurisdiction map with key elements unique to the area.
- List any communications mutual-aid agreements with adjoining jurisdictions.
- List the volunteer program manager; i.e., ACS Officer, RACES Officer, Radio or Communications Officer of the unit.
- Determine protocol for record checks on unit applicants and if the unit will have "levels" of participants. Some units have two or more levels of participants and require law record checks.
- Detail the line of authority for unit mobilization and call- out. Allow for one responder, a small group, or the entire unit to be utilized. Consider activating someone from the unit any time anyone in the emergency management agency is activated.
- Make a line chart of the Emergency Services Organization of the jurisdiction.
- List agencies to receive copy of final plan.
- List, generally, the resources from an authorization aspect. Most of the detail on resources should go into the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) or Operations Manual (OM)
- Tactical Call for the jurisdiction EOC and for each city.
- Determine communication net levels for the unit. A state-to- county net may be normal procedure, or a county-to-agency link may be part of the local protocol.
- Use appendices to list area repeaters and frequencies, but avoid operating procedures in the plan. Collect such data.
Once the information is gathered, it needs to be placed in a plan format. You can develop your own, or refer to unit plans on the ACS web site at acs.oes.ca.gov.