15: No Self Deployment

Ohio District 3 ARES program, Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This morning Matt Welch, W8DEC, the Ohio ARES SEC, sent an email to Ohio ARRL members regarding the Moore, OK tornado.  He stated that he had not received any requests for ham radio assistance to the affected area, and asked Ohio ARES members not to self-deploy.  Why is self-deployment such a problem?

1.      Security.  Police officers, firefighters, emergency managers, Red Cross staff and others affiliated with national response organizations arrive on the scene with completed background checks.  Without such a check you are unlikely to be admitted to the affected area, the emergency operations centers, the command posts, the shelters, the kitchens, the day care facilities, etc.  You will just be taking up space until your check is completed.

2.      Limited resources.  Anyone who has ever attended Field Day knows that hams consume disproportionate amounts of liquids, food and restroom facilities, all of which are in short supply in disaster areas.

3.      Need.  Hams are a vital communications resource during the first hours of every large disaster.  However, the simple fact is that if you drop everything to jump into your camper and race to Oklahoma, by the time you arrive the need for emergency communications volunteers has generally passed.  Hams are most valuable in and near their ARES districts.  There will occasionally be exceptions to this rule, such as ice storms and hurricanes, but most disasters will never require hams to deploy from other states.