The Oakville Amateur Radio Club is reorganizing its ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) group and we’re looking to adding digital D-Star communications and MESH networks. (See my post on the Oakville Amateur Radio Club Blog VE3HB for more on MESH.)
These are very exciting times for the Oakville club as new initiatives and a stronger emphasis on working together has taken place. So when it comes to ARES, where are we?
According to the ARRL (where ARES started) website, ARES consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes.
Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in the ARRL (the same applies to membership in RAC) or any local or national organization is eligible to apply for membership in ARES.
In Canada (and this from the RAC website) emergency service activities in each RAC Section are under the direction of the Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC), who is appointed by the Section Manager (SM).
The radio amateurs in each community within the Section register their facilities with the local Emergency Coordinator (EC), who is also appointed by the SM or SEC. In order to provide better support in areas where there is a large number of EC appointments, the position of District Emergency Coordinator (DEC) is appointed by the SM. Being RAC officers, these appointments must be RAC members.
Again from the RAC site any amateur radio club can start an ARES unit in an area where one does not currently exist. No proposal for a new ARES unit can be acted upon when it conflicts with an existing recognized RAC ARES group.
This is a good thing of course as it avoids issues with just who is in charge of the emergency. (Watch this 1950′s Tony Hancock comedy sketch. It’s hilarious and as poignant today as it was when it first aired.)
Regrettably in the past there has been some issues with ARES management as the organization falls under the notoriously poorly managed Radio Amateurs of Canada and as such some Ontario hams went off and started a new group called ECOA (Emergency Communications Ontario).
This situation is really unfortunate but no surprise when one talks to hams who are ECOA members and left the RAC-run ARES association in frustration.
We’ll see how Oakville ARC does and which way it goes.