"Here in Arizona, we are fortunate not to have annual disasters. Yes, an occasional flash flood, a wildfire, or a serious snow storm does occur, but most of
our "emergencies" are the result of a breakdown of communications....phone service, cellular service....etc.
In order to offer on going training and nets, we have put together a team....Gila County EMARC. This is an acronym for Emergency Management Amateur Radio Communications and is a "merger" of three services......RACES, ARES, and SKYWARN. Members check in on each local net.
In a local emergency....or a communication need, that does not escalate to the County Office of Emergency Management, the units function as an ARES unit. If the incident escalates, some of the members are switched to RACES frequencies for interagency support while other continue offering supplemental communications to Red Cross and Salvation Army services as ARES members. If the incident is weather related, a portion of the members activate a SKYWARN net with the Regional office of the National Weather Service. All members are well versed in the various protocols of each public service discipline so regardless of their assignment they are comfortable with their mission.
We have, following the concept of California ACS, also included non-amateur members. These include computer operators, and logistic and record keeping personnel as well as simply "runners".....those who can take a message and hand carry it to the person that needs the information.
At this time, there are no active REACT organizations at the local level so until this happens....and it will as FRS becomes more popular in this area, we have not included this. We do however, have people monitoring local CB frequencies 9 and 19 during weather related emergencies.....or even a serious traffic accident that closes a highway. This has proven beneficial in warning truck drivers to pull off in a populated area, rather than get caught in highway traffic and contribute to the "on scene" congestion.
Even without the large scale disasters in Arizona, it is my hope that at sometime the State will adopt a plan along the same guidelines as California ACS. Right now, the "turf battles" of individual "Emergency Service" teams have been a detriment to that happening.
Keep up the good work.....I enjoy the insight.
Chuck Heron District Emergency Coordinator, Gila County ARES Member Gila County RACES SKYWARN Operator and Observer, Arizona Sector's 5 and 6."