We’re approaching our second season of reorganizing and revitalizing our ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) here in Oakville and the future is looking bright.
ARES groups are formed at the local level and most often sponsored by individual clubs which can provide insurance protection for members. While there is some organization to ARES, almost all of the initiative and energy comes from the bottom and flows upwards.
This means at the local level your ARES group is open to any licensed Amateur Radio operator and clubs can make a decision about whether to insist that all members of their ARES group are also club members.
Normally it’s considered good practice to join the local club especially if you’re a regular user of the club’s assets such as the repeater system.
Here in Oakville we run a VHF and UHF repeater plus a new D-Star repeater. All this costs the club money in materials and insurance and we’re always appreciative of users who have enough self-awareness to chip in. Some do not and that’s unfortunate and costly to the club.
Whoever is representing the ARES group, called the Emergency Coordinator needs to be someone with sufficient communication skills to work with people.
It’s especially nice if they’re presentable and mentally stable. That’s not always been the case. (RAC has been having a fairly major breakdown of its ARES organizational structure with many key people leaving in frustration with the lack of leadership and vision within the organization and the anti-social behaviour of some of the participants.)
When it comes to your local EC it’s great if they’ve got some current business experience so they can make a good impression on municipal officials and fit into the municipal government environment as there’s going to be meetings. :)
What you want to avoid in your EC is someone who is impressed with the own title and but doesn’t get around to doing any of the work or providing any leadership. This has happened in the past and nothing gets done.
Being an EC isn’t real hard and most of us learned by doing as it isn’t rocket science and can actually be a lot of fun.
And it doesn’t take much to make an ARES group work either. A call-out tree of names and telephone numbers combined with attendance at a few community events and you’ve got more training than most.
The really eager beavers might even build their own quick response box (called a Go Box) so they can be ready at a moment’s notice if they get a call and take some first-aid training.
Here in Oakville we’re proceeding with the installation of our MESH network which will help us expand our ability to provide communication services across the entire municipality.
The Burlington group is considering doing the same and there is some activity in the Mississauga and Peel clubs.
If you’re a licensed Radio Amateur or you want to become one and you live in or near Oakville, Ontario consider joining the Oakville Amateur Radio Club.
We meet on the second Tuesday of the month (no meeting in December as its our annual festive Christmas dinner) at Abbey Park Secondary School 1455 Glen Abbey Gate or join us every Saturday morning at 6:30 for breakfast at Cora’s restaurant on Dorval Drive north of the QEW.