Successful government EMCOMM (emergency communications) units (whether ACS, RACES, or otherwise named) display or have certain characteristics and attributes:
- Administration of the program by staff oriented to management, not technical work.
- Active involvement of the program participants in the on-going week-by-week, or day-to-day, life and affairs of the agency.
- Careful selection of the chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for skills of management and vision as to the utilization and capabilities of the program.
- Acquiring the special know-how that enhances the use of a volunteer program.
- Asking for help, whether in procuring the right CAO, preparation of written position descriptions, or general statement of standards and expectations for participants.
- Requiring ongoing training and participation in emergency services nets using agency facilities for operator familiarization and equipment testing.
- Expecting program participants to equal or excel paid staff.
- A constant complaint from those involved in emergency response is that "communications always fail" when least expected, and when least prepared for that happenstance. So, realization of the importance of a communications reserve under agency direction is a key factor indeed.
- Activating a PORTION of the emergency communications unit personnel at anytime that paid staff is involved with ANY potential or existing emergency.
- Train participants not to mention government frequencies on-the-air, as they may be confidential. Instead refer to the channel number if required to change the frequency. Also train to refrain from making comments on-the-air pertaining to public safety such as police or fire communications overheard on scanning monitors.
- Setting requirements of participation and adhering to them, including removal of any who fail to participate in most activations and drills, or are inactive.
Since there are other commitments such as job, family, and other matters in their lives, participants need to determine what is truly important in their own lives and minds. If there are other commitments that will prevent full support of required activities, then you should not be a participant unless there is a definite defined role where you do fit.
(continues next bulletin on unsuccessful units.)