Perhaps one has to experience the results of providing effective communications, albeit telephone over the satellite link or microwave, before one really grasps the significance of, and reward, of doing just that.
Typically the personnel in an OES ACS unit come from those in the FCC licensed Amateur Radio community with a strong interest in Emergency Communications; however such a license is not required. In fact, historically, during the past 5 years for example, the actual use of Amateur Radio frequencies by those serving these units has been rare. Yet, there are outstanding instances when the Amateur Radio equipment of a volunteer (his handheld radio, or HT for instance) and FCC Amateur Frequencies were critical. The most obvious was when a field crew was being ferried from one point to yet another in a military helicopter that crashed on a ledge on the side of a mountain. It was the HT of a FCC licensed Amateur Operator on the team that got the call through for help.
In the case of the California OES units, today's success is due to a situation that started with rapport between a paid staffer and a volunteer who both understood the need, had the personal flexibility to work together, the dream or idea, and made it happen.
For approximately five years there was just that one team centered out of the San Francisco Bay area, which is where the people worked and lived. During that period the involvement of the team was sometimes a mixture of volunteerism and emergency hire, depending on time and circumstances. Numerous emergency hire situations were able to assist Law Enforcement agencies in the state with security and control, such as at conventions and major disaster response; like earthquakes.
It was the combination of the four mobile earth stations and three new Communications Vans that led to today's expanded ACS field team involvement. Yet, there can be room for more if skilled, interested, physically fit registrants meet the OES ACS program requirements and standards. Backgrounds needed include telephone, microwave and radio or similar forms of communications experience. Field deployment situations are hazardous, therefore fire safety and fire behavior courses are mandatory, as are other training requirements, along with the ability to work as a team.
Continues next week
Submit suggestions, topics or comments on the bulletins to Cary Mangum, State ACS Officer, California. (W6WWW), firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Bulletins archives: ACS Web page: acs.oes.ca.gov, ftp.ucsd.edu/emcomm or ftp.oes.ca.gov/ACS/EMCOMM and a Landline BBS at 916-255-0798 (graphical & standard interface)