Building strong partnerships during “blue sky” times is the bedrock of a good emergency management program. This means we learn to work and train together with our partners BEFORE a large-scale emergency happens so they know our resources, capabilities, and responses and they count on us to be there for them when they need us.
Many of you are aware of the fact that Camden County has its own Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a group of trained volunteers who can respond to give first responders more support during large-scale emergencies. What you may not know is that these dedicated volunteers use events around the lake area year round to keep their skills in tiptop shape. You may have seen them out with our staff providing traffic control during the Magic Dragon Street Meet, manning the First Aid tent during Aquapalooza and the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, and working at various other events. They are always in “safety green” (they look neon yellow to me!) vests with CERT clearly visible on the front and back.
What you may not know is that Camden County also has an Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) group consisting of trained, FCC-licensed, volunteer amateur radio operators who can respond in emergency situations to provide backup communications “When all else fails”, or, as the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) states: “The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment, with their local ARES leadership, for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes.”
The Camden County ARES is supported by the local Lake of the Ozarks Amateur Radio Club!
At the Camden County ARES meeting last night, our conversation consisted of the initial planning stages to get the ARES members to complete the list of FEMA Independent Study courses and other training they need to work with our office and then begin introducing them into events and training with the Camden County, MO CERT so they can provide the backbone of almost all emergency operations: clear, concise communications.
Camden County ARES Emergency Coordinator (EC), Ernest Venis (W0LTC) is our office’s call sign trustee. He manages the efforts and use of KA0EMA. He is extremely knowledgeable about the world of radios, not just amateur, but professional as well! He brought us an example of a magazine article showing just how much ARES volunteers want to be involved in supporting their communities:
The Camden County ARES will have members with the Camden County, MO CERT at the upcoming Lake of the Ozarks Shootout so they can shadow our CERT volunteers and learn how we use radios to communicate with the incident command post, our roving first aid teams, event coordinators, and everyone else involved in such a large event. The ARES members are eager to jump right in and learn how they can help our office and our CERTs and we look forward to welcoming another huge asset and partnership to the table!
Please feel free to reach out to ARES EC Ernest Venis at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining the Camden County ARES group or about the program in general.
Sam Henley (KE0LMY)