ARES Happenings
There have been some interesting discussions lately about the new ARES Strategic Plan that is coming down the pipe from ARRL HQ. I have been given an advanced pre-vote copy that outlines all the changes. I’ll share what this means for ARES in Lancaster County, SKYWARN®, LARC, and those who participate.
Please note that SKYWARN is a separate entity from ARES. What that means is you do not have to be an active member of ARRL, ARES, or LARC to participate in SKYWARN. SKYWARN in Lancaster County includes weather-related nets and activities, such as reporting snow depths and storm watches.

The SKYWARN certification requirements remain the same: successful completion of two online courses, “Role of The SKYWARN Spotter” and “SKYWARN Spotter Convective Basics,” and the tri-annual certification test created by the NWS and administered by the Lancaster County EOC. The two online courses need to be taken only once. After finishing these courses with passing quiz scores, present the certificates of completion to the EC or email them to me at Participants must attend SKYWARN spotter training once every three years and pass the certification test, which is administered immediately following the NWS presentation. The results of those tests will be compiled by the LEOC and forwarded to the EC.

In the past, participants were encouraged to complete FEMA online courses IS-100 and IS-200. Many of you have. If you have yet to take these courses, I urge each of you to do so. They offer great introductory information about the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS).
The new ARES Strategic Plan offers three levels of certification. Level one is designed for folks who are registering for ARES participation. Training will be provided by the local ARES leadership team and can consist of formal or informal procedural training sessions. Completion of all training will be verified by the participant’s emergency coordinator (EC) before the participant advances to the next level.

Upon completion of level one, those who want advanced training to prepare for potential leadership roles may participate in level two training. Participants are required to complete ARRL’s EC-001, “Introduction to Amateur Radio Emergency Communications,” and FEMA online courses IS-100, IS-200, IS-700, and IS-800. Additionally, ARRL membership is required for all individuals who serve in appointed positions in the ARES program.
Level three certification is for those participants who have completed levels one and two and wish to pursue ARES leadership roles such as EC, ADEC, DEC, ASEC, SEC, and other designated positions in the ARES program. Participants are required to successfully complete ARRL’s EC-016, “Emergency Communications for Management” along with FEMA courses IS-300 and IS-400. Participants will also be encouraged to complete FEMA Leadership Development courses: IS-120, IS-230, IS-240, IS-241, IS-242, IS-244, and IS-288.

Both IS-300 and IS-400 are 18-hour classroom programs, and the instructor needs to be in our area to teach these classes. Matt Anderson, KAØBOJ, our section manager, has the authority to extend the time allowed for completion of these two modules or to grant in substitution thereof the FEMA Leadership Development Series courses as an alternative. I have talked to Matt, and he has agreed to allow the substitution.
Participants currently in leadership roles when the new program is implemented will have one calendar year to complete training to meet qualifications for level three. Training requirements for the roles of EC, DEC, and their assistants will be verified by their SEC or his or her designee.

Lastly, for those of you who feel this is going to be a huge burden or a waste of time; trust me. I thought the same thing. However, as I’ve said many times, I won’t ask you to do something that I haven’t already done or that I’m not willing to do. Aside from IS-300 and IS-400, it took me fewer than 24 hours to complete every course mentioned in this article. I’m glad I completed them because it has given me a different viewpoint regarding the incident command structure.
I hope this article sheds some light on upcoming ARES changes, dispels some rumors, and sets your minds at ease, knowing that ARES leaders have the skills and training should the need ever arise.

—Ed Holloway, KØRPT
ARRL Nebraska Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC)
ARRL Nebraska Section, Lancaster County Emergency Coordinator (EC)