Hmmm...did not the ARRL receive a Federal grant to provide the very training they are charging for? Doesn't seem right to me. Why did they get a $181,000 grant to provide training in 2003 if they turn around and charge their own members for the training?
The purpose of the grant was to provide training at no cost. Guess the folks in Newington didn't get that memo. Oh well, more free handout tax dollars why not?
ARRL Receives Homeland Security Training Grant:
FWIW, the FEMA Emergency Management Institute online courses are FREE OF CHARGE to anyone who wants them, and are accredited and recognized by all EMA/EOC's. I would encourage ANYONE who desires to delve into volunteering in disaster response in any capacity to at minimum get ICS100, and learn the basics of the Incident Command System.
One of the biggest problems I see is that ARES, while it gives the appearance of a national organization, isn't really an organization. There are some local groups that are highly organized, but many are not. The other issue I have with ARES is they are completely modeled around providing emergency "communicators". It's 2013. No one wants some guy following them around with an HT passing "radio grams" when, with the right training and a license, they can do it themselves. Many so-called ARES groups aren't even recognized entities, lack liability insurance, yet they conduct business signing agreements with government entities. Anyone else see a problem with this? What happens when something goes bad, who has your back? The ARRL? Yeah right. They will not know who you are. Then again, some ARES groups are incorporated as 501C3's, are properly organized- and these are usually attached to other entities such as EMA/EOC's or other clubs. It's truly a crap shoot.
There are many roles to fill during a disaster, more fit and ready volunteers, who happen to be hams, and come with their own autonomous communications, are more of an asset than what the ARRL says ARES members are supposed to do, which is provide emergency communications. While some ARES groups go outside this, again, I ask the question: who's got your back when something goes wrong? The almighty league will tell you that you are NOT supposed to do ANYTHING other than jockey a radio. Yet the ARES groups are loaded with "Emergency Coordinators", I wonder how many people who wear this title actually hold the qualifications to call themselves EMERGENCY anything. It's one thing to have a title: it's another to actually DO something. Lots of chiefs and few Indians. And if you do have proper training (which the league doesn't offer), and you do CPR on someone, the ARRL will be quick to divorce you.
The ARES model is all about providing a pool of these "communicators" that will somehow come into a situation and save the day. In the real world, it doesn't happen. The real world calls for people who are properly trained and ALREADY THERE to be able to provide their own communications should normal channels not be available. The ham communicator's place ideally should be external to assist. But you'll never hear most ARES guys tell you this, because they pump out this constant mantra of "when all else fails". But let me ask you this, how are we, the served agency, supposed to call upon you if "all else fails"? We're supposed to wait for you to self-dispatch? Miss Cleo will tell you when an emergency happens? Uhm, okay. Sounds good. Meanwhile...back to reality...
I say seek out an find a recognized, incorporated entity that trains with the agencies they serve. Do they offer liability insurance? Are they a real business entity? Is there a chain of command or just a bunch of guys with titles. Is the training accredited through FEMA, your state EOC or public safety training entity? There are plenty of highly organized volunteers active in disaster in most areas.
If you plan on starting one yourself and doing it right, be prepared to spend a ton of money, do alot of work. Professional liability insurance is a must if you plan on doing anything other than standing around. This alone can cost several thousand dollars a year. Been there, done that.
BTW, lots of hams are looking for an alternative to ARES. The ARRL needs to put ARES to bed and work with served agencies directly and train hams from within to manage their own resources. But what do I know.
What's the Alternative to ARES?