"The RACES (Disaster Communications Service) unit in LA's Malibu/Hidden Hills Sheriff's Station, DCS Station 22, started out many years ago as a 4-5 person "Ham Radio Only" unit that mostly talked amongst themselves once a week over coffee. They held drills and prided themselves in compliance with the RACES rules.Over the years, we found that one of our valuable contributions was in manning telephones and even the switchboard so deputies could be assigned to other duties - the area we cover is prone to brush fires, earthquakes, and floods. Some hams balked at 'non-radio' assignments, but we attracted well over 300 trained volunteers, more than just about the whole rest of LA County's DCS units combined; we were very innovative in the services we offered. We've found, for example, that every operating position requires someone to write down messages and another person to run those to the EOC personnel, and usually one or two others to handle logistics. Only the actual operating position requires a license.
Many of our non-hams have gone on to get their ham licenses because they saw the other ways they could contribute to the community - that was a bonus. We go out of our way to include our non-ham members in training and emergency activities.
Our group has actively recruited hams from the community, 'manufactured' hams by running classes, and made it easy for our members to get licensed by running VE Sessions - it's common to have multiple generations of members - my family is about to begin the 4th generation (father, daughter and sons, grand daughter and me) of DCS membership.
I've been travelling too much to be actively involved in LA County DCS for the past 14 or so years, but keep in touch with the operation through e-mail. I also enjoy receiving your bulletins."
Followup information: "Capt. Tom Fakehany deserves credit for opening the group to non-hams and creating our message center. Tom is a Reserve Captain and has been our liaison officer since I began. At the time we started, he wasn't licensed; now he's an Extra Class and we use his call, N6FDR, for Field Day."
Following EMC296 "RACES - Amateurs Only??" we received the following E-mail of historical interest from Norm Goodkin, K6YXH. (Edited and issued with permission.)
End edited email quotation.
The Bulletins are addressed to the Emergency Management Agency (with sub-addresses to others) with the intent that the Radio Officer, ACS Coordinator or other unit participant will deliver them to the agency coordinator, and discuss their topics.