Every time I am called up it is from the ARES leaders for my area,it is the only way agencies can really find experienced and qualified operators at all.
So I really like working with SATERN in an incident but they request help through ARES groups to get the ball rolling.
Again though in general no one is interested in a guy in a trailer regardless of how qualified,experienced or well equipped he might be.
Being ready and prepared can only be good but is also only a piece of the whole puzzle to put together to help serve in my experience.
The trailer and tower and repeater I pictured here is a great resource but only gets deployed because the people in charge are aware of it and me from my past involvement in the organizations and processes.
We drill a lot and several times a year run public service events as communicators and this does give us real experience for actual incident response.
We support over 3000 ridders for the Bike MS and have to cover a 60 square mile or so area with only what we can deploy ourselves.We run 3 separate nets for the entire ride and support over 50 vehicles and also use APRS tracking of all of them.
My trailer gets setup 30 miles away from Net Control and provides a UHF link to a cross band full duplex repeater that we built to allow for 2 simultaneous VHF nets to Net Control without needing cans at all.
I have had to use this exact setup in the field during incident response and the practice makes it all much easier to count on for sure.
I ended up in Joplin 2 days after the Tornado and some of the stuff we were tasked with was pretty intense while other things were dull and not challenging at all but each were of equal importance to the job at hand,it does require a certain mindset and commitment to be part of the bigger picture as needed.
I spent 2 days at the back of the FEMA Ice Trailers watching the Ice melt but I also spent weeks convincing folks one at a time that we had enough fresh breakfast for everyone not just the neighbors that they said needed it more than they did.
We also slept on pews in a slanted floored church for a few days and while uncomfortable it sure beat the victims that we aided who were sleeping in the roofless cars they were left with outside in the 100 degree Missouri early summer.
I actually felt guilty at first that I could use my air conditioned egg to rest in luxury while this was going on all around me but once I did move into my own bed I was also a lot more useful to everyone else so it can sort of work itself out too.
During the aftermath of Katrina a bunch of our group spent months in Mississippi running 911 services for a county there from VHF Ham rigs until they could get back on their feet. Sleeping on a High School floor and working in jungle like conditions are often just a part of the package but the help it provides can not really be measured and makes the whole effort worth it to me.
As was offered above the most important task is to learn to help without adding to the problem accidentally by just being there and this takes practice for sure.
Originally Posted by John in Santa Cruz
a friend of mine is involved with the local ARES group, they do 2-3 field exercises a year where all the regional HAM clubs coordinate from various sites
i'd suggest finding out what local HAM group is involved with ARES, join them, go to a few of their events and get to know the movers and shakers as those are the ones who count, and go to their ARES exercises, they often last 2-3 days. THEN sign up to be on call...
I know the local ARES was /very/ involved in emergency response coordination during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake... many areas around here were without power for a week or more.
edit: ah, here's /our/ local ARES group, Santa Cruz County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES)
and the local HAM club is SCCARC – Santa Cruz County Amateur Radio Club