You Got Your License. What’s Next?

It’s been really great getting to meet all of the new licensees and rag chewing on the repeater. A number of people have approached me to ask the question – “What’s next? How can I get more involved with WCARES?”

Here are a few points to set you on the right path.

Study The Website

There is a lot of great information on the website contributed by members. Spend an hour just surfing the site paying specific attention to the Members Only area.  If you’re new and having trouble accessing parts of the website please email

Print and Read The Emergency Ops Plan

The emergency operations plan has been created to serve as the official WCARES plan of action when dealing with a disaster or emergency. There is a lot of great information about frequencies, policies and procedures that pertain directly to WCARES members and volunteers. It’s very important that you have a printed copy of this plan in the event that a disaster disrupts Internet service.

For members the document can be found here.

Check Into A Net

The WCARES net meets every Monday night at 7pm central. Listen in to the net and wait for the appropriate time to check-in. If you are an active member of WCARES your name should be called during the roster check-in. Alternatively there is an opportunity for anyone (member or non-member) to check in at various times.

Participate in Net Activities

Serving as shadow backup for net control will be a big help and also give you good training for net procedures. It’s very easy and very important to WCARES as an organization.  Once you’ve gotten your feet wet and put in some time as a shadow backup – you can step up and run your own net.

Further Your HAM Education

Remember that there are 3 license classes and if you’ve just gotten your Technician license then you still have an opportunity to get your General class license and your Amateur Extra class license.  There are dozens of highly experienced Elmer’s in WCARES that can help explain and offers hands on training in almost any area of amateur radio.

The Incident Command System

During an emergency WCARES will follow the Incident Command System. ICS was developed at the Federal level and is a set of procedures and rules that are necessary to create an effective chain of command and efficient flow of communication from the man on the ground to the top level decision makers.

It’s suggested that all WCARES members begin by passing ICS-100, ICS-200, ICS-700 and ICS-800 before moving on to other components of ICS study.  Proof of a passing grade in all four of these ICS courses will be required for certain activities within WCARES.  These classes are free and available online only.

Volunteer For WCARES Activities

Throughout the year there are dozens of volunteer opportunities that are fun and effective in honing your skills as a radio operator.

  • Field Day – A 24 hour exercise which involves the entire country and gives you an opportunity to go hands on in a high-paced communication simulation.
  • Races – There are numerous foot and bike races that give you an opportunity to be in a fixed location or mobile in a vehicle.  You will be assigned a position and a specific set of criteria for the communications that you will pass to net control.
  • Organizational Activities – you can help with Chew & Chats, severe weather watches, on the antenna team, mobile installation team or one of many WCARES “pods” that are helpful in the local community.

Check the website calendar to see a list of upcoming events that you can volunteer for.

Become A SkyWarn Trained Weather Spotter

SkyWarn is a group of over 20,000 trained weather watchers that are educated on what qualifies weather as severe and how to communicate with local responders and become a helpful member of the weather spotting community.  In middle Tennessee we are subject to seasonal thunderstorms frequently activate a severe weather net.  SkyWarn training is essential in being an effective member of the local weather response community.

In Closing

Being an active WCARES member can be very rewarding on many levels. Investing just a little time and energy will yield high rewards in knowledge and friendship as you gain responsibilities within the organization.

-KJ4YJG ( )

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