"When notified to provide emergency operations assistance (which can be communications or other related activities) the Radio Officer (RO) makes an initial evaluation of requirements versus the capabilities.Assuming there are trained components available, the RO then initiates the call-up of the required resources, whether it be a one-person response or an on-going 24 hour day-to-day operation. If there are NO trained components available, and no standing agreements, the RO uses the area support structure for getting or accessing resources. In California, County Radio Officers can obtain needed communications resources via a State OES mutual aid system. The State OES Region Radio Officer serves as the point of contact to obtain resources from other areas. This saves the RO much calling; only one call is required. It is also beneficial for alerts of potential needs "just in case"!
Where an on-going operation requires a Net Control Station, the RO assigns the NCS (unless there is a Standing Order in effect that does the same thing.) If there is no Frequency Standing Order or plan-designated ones, the RO designates the frequency(s). There are a variety of ways in which net(s) can be setup. The complexity of the situation dictates the results in general terms. Operationally, a command frequency is needed; a resource frequency and others may be also needed. Much depends on which type of EOC or command post is involved.
The RO, or a designated Shift Supervisor, sets up the initial work schedule for radio or other communications equipment operations (where and if involved). This could include a person assigned to follow up on persons that may not have been contacted under the initial alert or call-out procedure (where applicable).
Where there are field assignments the situation will vary from that of EOC assignments, in that equipment may already be provided in the EOC. For the broadest protection of all concerned, field deployment should have written resource records of those assigned where, when, etc. Even EOC assignments should have personnel logs of the times people check in and out.
The RO is the operations manager for the volunteers during the entire operation and at all times. It is the RO responsibility to conserve energies by delegating tasks and remaining objective and fresh as possible. Since new outbreaks of other unexpected emergencies can (and do) occur in tandem, an overly stretched out RO can be his/her own worst enemy, so take the time to take a break. Make sure that no responder is held over on a shift, no matter what the situation. Remember that acts of omission (not relieving a person when you should) can lead to unfortunate consequences, such as an accident due to fatigue by that person. It could also have unfortunate legal consequences for the person managing the response, such as the coordinator or Radio Officer.
"On notification of activation the RO (Radio Officer or alternate) needs certain information. If there are multiple locations, each must be considered separately and individually.
Note: Many Radio Officers report that they do their assignments OFF-THE-AIR. There are several reasons for this; one of which is the unscrupulous who could note the persons name and look up their home location and then go to the property. [It is the same potential as when someone announces on a local net that he is taking a vacation beginning such and such a date.] Shift assignments should be confidential and NOT made public. [Sure, it has been done, and overly eager people will continue to do it, but it isn't professional. On-the-air assignments should only be done if no other form of practical communication is possible.]
What about recall? What will it take to recall a responder once that person has departed for an assignment? Sometimes it is more difficult than one would imagine."
Today the titles used in California are different, as are systems response due to procedural changes. The "Region Radio Officer" today is the "Region ACS Officer" since the position responsibility extends beyond radio into many communications forms and systems including Public Safety Systems. Procedures for mutual aid changed with the legislation that created SEMS (the Standardized Emergency Management System) and the RIMS (Response Incident Management System) method of communication between counties and state for mutual aid and support.
How do your unit activate? We would like to know how yours does it. Please write and share your procedures. Send to e-mail address below.