EmComm Focus Group

Williamson County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (WCARES)
Emergency Communication Program

The Williamson County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (WCARES) Emergency Communications (EmComm) program has been developed to provide training and organization for WCARES volunteers who are interested in enhancing their radio ability with knowledge, skills and hands-on experiences specific to the world of EmComm.  While all ARES members are expected to participate in emergency communication, the WCARES EmComm program is designed to provide a more structured approach to prepare communication specialists who can provide leadership for EmComm deployments.

The goals of the WCARES EmComm program are:

  • Provide specialized training in emergency communication and field operation.
  • Promote incremental improvement in volunteer training and proficiency by establishing achievement levels within the program.
  • Prepare leaders who can organize and supervise other operators during emergencies.
  • Encourage training and practice with the Incident Command System (ICS).
  • Develop relationships with served agencies such as the Williamson Co. EOC and TEMA.
  • Coordinate with ARES groups in surrounding counties.
  • Organize and carry out EmComm emergency preparedness exercises.
  • Recruit and mentor new WCARES members who have an interest in EmComm.

Achievement levels within the WCARES EmComm team

Four levels of achievement have been developed within the WCARES EmComm program.

Level 1 – Entry

Entry level members serve as assistants to Level 2 operators and Level 3 team leaders. Duties include equipment set-up and take-down, logging of calls and other tasks as needed. This level allows newer amateurs the opportunity to observe and learn EmComm operations.

Level 1 requirements:

Level 2 – Radio operator

Level 2 members receive and transmit information as needed to assist the served agency via UHF/VHF and HF.  Level 2 operators also assist the team leader as needed and mentor Level 1 team members.

Level 2 requirements:

  • Level 1 requirements plus –
  • General class amateur license
  • Winlink training and demonstrated knowledge of setup, operation and break-down of drop kits.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of safe field setup and operation using portable power systems.

Level 3 – Team leader

Level 3 is the first supervisory level within WCARES EmComm program. Level 3 members supervise field teams, develop schedules for radio coverage, monitor on-site safety and serve as on-site liaison with the served agency. Level 3 operators are expected to be familiar the Incident Command System (ICS) and be able to apply ICS organization to incident responses. Level 3 volunteers supervise and mentor Level 1 and Level 2 volunteers.

Level 3 requirements:

  • Level 2 requirements plus –
  • Completion of ICS-300 training
  • Completion of SKYWARN training.
  • MTEARS knowledge and experience.
  • Site visits to Williamson County EOC, American Red Cross and Williamson Medical Center radio operations
  • Demonstrated proficiency with voice and Winlink radio operation
  • Ability to assess and monitor safety of field operation.
  • Net control introductory training.
  • Demonstrated leadership ability such as participation in training events as an instructor/leader

Level 4 – EmComm Coordinator

Level 4 volunteers report directly to the WCARES Emergency Coordinator (EC) and act in their place of the EC when needed.  Level 4 volunteers assign and supervise multiple Level 3 team leaders in the event of large incidents, and they ensure that staffing resources, equipment and food/lodging is available at deployment sites as needed.  Level 4 volunteers coordinate with served agencies, Incident Command, TEMA, FEMA and other government agencies as needed.  Level 4 volunteers mentor Level 3.

Level 4 requirements:

  • Level 3 requirements plus –
  • Completion of COML class
  • Recommendation of WCARES Emergency Coordinator
  • Ability to assess team member performance and recommend team leaders

Additional recommended training

The following training opportunities are optional but recommended.

  • CERT
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Additional ICS training courses such as ICS-400
  • WCARES/county/regional/TEMA/FEMA training exercises and events