Some Comments From An EMCOMM Operator…

The following “memo” was received from an Amateur Radio Operator who has held several ARES positions over the years and has volunteered countless hours. While you may not agree with everything contained in the “memo” I hope it will give you pause for thought. If it makes you think and reflect then it has done its job.

Thoughts on being an Amateur Radio Operator Emergency Communications Volunteer By VA7ZA


Amateur Radio Operators can be a great resource for government departments during an emergency that involves local, regional and provincial governments.

In many years of being associated with amateur radio groups involved in volunteering I have noticed a number of traits of our brothers and sisters that have concerned me with regard to our effectiveness and ability to perform in a professional manner.

A little history: I graduated as a military radio operator in 1961 from the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals School and polished my skills in the field by watching some amazing operators who managed Voice, CW and RTTY communications with great skill and pride of doing the job correctly. We were taught by veterans about the serious results of not striving for professional accuracy.

As a civilian pilot later in the 1960’s 70’s and 80’s I appreciated and admired the professionalism of Air Traffic Controllers throughout North America. These are operators whose skills may be called on in extremely stressful situations. These professional operators have a number of things in common. They had a lack of ego about their skills, a willingness to assist others and a desire for professionalism by learning from their mistakes.
Why all the above:

To suggest that as Amateur Radio Operators we can learn a lot from how the professionals work.


Leave your ego at home: Realize that your value is in serving your community as a communicator with the skills to efficiently work your equipments various modes and pass traffic accurately. You are not expected to do anything other than to use these skills to the best of your ability.

If you know your technical knowledge is superior to others, quietly help other operators if they need it.

Diligently learn how to operate the equipment provided. The sad truth is that in my years as a communication volunteer I have run into many amateurs who have been licensed for a long time who do not know how to operate the equipment provided and in some cases continue in that lack of knowledge. This is not a great example for new members in our field!

I suggest that personal copies be kept of all types of documentation that you will be required to handle in your units emergency operation tasks. Logs, message forms etc.
Acquire copies of the command structure such as EMBC and local authority procedures and how it will work in various levels of emergencies. If you find yourself as the only operator available for a shift and there is no station manager in attendance, you will be very glad you have a binder along with the above.

After a training session or an actual call out, I strongly believe that if you follow the above you will go home with a fantastic feeling of accomplishment. Remember, we can all learn something from those around us.

Sincerely, VA7ZA