Prior bulletins said that the authority to activate ACS or RACES has certain requirements and is published in the ACS or RACES plan. How activation may occur
We learned that the disaster council delegates the authority to someone in local government, such as the Sheriff, thence to a Deputy Sheriff, for example.
Once the decision is made to involve the unit, the next item is HOW MANY of the unit to involve. This decision may be made by the agency coordinator or ACS or RACES Officer, depending on the local situation; but it may hinge on how well the paid staff coordinator understands the program.
Historically it was thought activation was for the entire unit. However, that varies with the jurisdiction or the situation. Activation, call out, or use can range from one person to three or 13 or 130.
Ideally, some element of the EMCOMM unit should be brought into the agency whenever the agency is involved with ANY emergency or POTENTIAL emergency situation. That is a good practice and accomplishes important essentials:
- It tells the unit it is important to the agency
- It opens lines of communications before it is too late
- It strengthens relationships between agency and unit in ways that you can't discover until it is done repeatedly.
Also, under the right program coordinator, the program may even include on-going participant involvement on a day-to-day basis. As an example, at State OES in California we use a form of on-going involvement for the State ACS (Auxiliary Communications Service). Every week, unit participants come into the Communications Center for net participation, training, and other preparations for eventual emergency uses. This is a policy instituted by the paid staff coordinator. At his direction, selected unit participants are tasked to the Comm Center on a regular basis. The purpose, in non-emergency times and events, is to check equipment, work on communications systems, staff training nets, attend designated training, or assist in projects related to preparedness for emergencies. To some degree it may be said that the State OES ACS unit is constantly in some element of involvement due to recognition that the process is preparing the unit to better serve when emergency communications support is needed.
Not all units can do this but it illustrates involvement and how important it is not to wait for the "big one", or, for that matter, for any disaster to occur.
Cary Mangum, W6WWW E-mail: email@example.com