Historically, we have sought to participate directly with local government via the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service or with a Memorandum of Understanding from the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, or as an Auxiliary Communications Service. Yet, in a sense, something is missing that calls for fulfillment on the part of many of those with FCC Amateur Radio Licenses.
Perhaps that which is missing is the real sense of being part of a realistic program that has teeth and meaningfulness. As I've watched the emergence of the Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) Programs it's notable that some 'Amateurs' have become involved and others have not grasped the opportunity to participate.
So, let's look at the NET program. The following is from the FEMA website and the State OES Coastal Region Staff as published in "Networks, Diaster Preparedness News", April 2001.
"Following a major disaster, first responders who provide fire and medical services will not be able to immediately meet the demand for these services. The large number of victims, communi- cation failures, and road blockages will prevent people from accessing emergency services they have come to expect at a moment's notice through 911. People will have to rely on each other for help in order to meet their immediate life saving and life sustaining needs.
Typically, under these kinds of conditions, family members, fellow employees, and neighbors will spontaneously try to help each other. This occurred following the Mexico City earthquake where untrained, spontaneous volunteers saved 800 people. Yet, 100 lost their lives while attempting to save others. This is a high price to pay, and is preventable through training.
Law enforcement, fire suppression and emergency service agencies across the country espouse the concept of community preparedness. Many have established Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) training programs. While their logistics differ from agency to agency, they all promote the same concept; neighbor taking care of neighbor in times of disasters.
Residents who participate in the NET program understand that they must rely on each other during a disastrous event because there will be more problems in the 72 hours following the event than there will be resources to deal with the problems.
Neighborhood Emergency Team training programs teach residents how to organize their neighbors for response and to communicate among themselves and with their local jurisdiction. Residents learn how to assess damage and perform light search and rescue. They are taught triage and disaster medical skills. They can be trained to be auxiliary responders and provide immediate assistance to victims in their area and collect disaster intelligence that will assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster." (edited)
It would seem that this can be a specific local situation ripe for the use of Amateur Radio Operators who live in the community. Several of the EMCOMM BULLETINS have quoted activities of the CERT program in Huntington Beach, CA as an example where the local Amateur Licensees are involved. (See EMC234, 237, 283, & 303) Be a leader, start the idea on such a program in your area. FEMA website: www.fema.gov/community-emergency-response-teams.