As part of this year’s Wireless LAN Professionals Conference in Dallas, we have a new sponsored Charity for our community to get involved with. This group is called Information Technology Disaster Resource Center – (ITDRC)
Joe Hillis gave a presentation on what his organization is all about, and how we as Wireless LAN Professionals can get involved. I strongly recommend watching the video of his presentation here.
One of the first steps is to get trained – so you can be prepared and ready to help either on-site or remotely at a possible disaster in the future. In order to lead by example, I thought I should start down this path myself.
I’m also interested in Ham Radio (Amateur Radio) and noticed many of the same required FEMA courses are the same as those required for Amateur Radio Emergency Services volunteers.
To help others to go down the path, I put together this list of courses and links.
My experience shows one does not need the estimated 3-hours for each of the first four courses – I was able to do most in a bit more than an hour to an hour and a half of focused study time. I also found I learn better via reading, when compared with watching videos or being lead in small chunks via online learning methods. So I did much better after I learned to download and read the course materials first.
The final one, on National Response Framework was the most difficult, but even then I was able to pass the exam on the second try after a bit more studying.
I strongly recommend that you might want to take the time and learn about the FEMA systems – it will make you personally more prepared, as well as help you meet the requirements to volunteer during a disaster.
I’ve included a copy of this in PDF form for download if you prefer to reading a blog post.
It is all part of being a Life-Long Learner!
Information Technology Disaster Resource Center ITDRC
Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES)
Required FEMA Independent Study Courses:
- IS-100.B – Introduction to Incident Command System
- IS-200.B – ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents
- IS-700.A – National Incident Management System (NIMS)
- IS-800.B – National Response Framework
Each of these is 3-hours (not really) and available free online
- FEMA IS-317: Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)
- EC-001 – Introduction to Emergency Communications
- EC-016 – Public Service and Emergency Communications Management for Radio Amateurs
- PR-101 – Course & Information for Public Information Officers
You can start with the online courses available from FEMA – each of these is a requirement whether you are going to volunteer through ITDRC or through your local ARES group.
Additionally, you might want to look into local CERT training to augment this online version, as well as take the much longer (45-hours+) courses from the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) for more detailed information on Emergency Communications.
If you are going to volunteer – please be informed and prepared to be an asset to those on the ground by preparing your skills and knowledge in advance.
These courses didn’t take nearly as long as the recommended times. Just sit down in front of a comfortable fire, break out your iPad or laptop and get started. A couple of evenings learning about FEMA will do you good, and help prepare you to be a volunteer.
Remember, Life-Long-Learning is a great thing!
National Incident Management System (NIMS) Training
IS-100.B: Introduction to Incident Command System, ICS-100 (3-hours)
ICS 100, Introduction to the Incident Command System, introduces the Incident Command System (ICS) and provides the foundation for higher-level ICS training. This course describes the history, features and principles, and organizational structure of the Incident Command System. It also explains the relationship between ICS and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
IS-200.B: ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents (3-hours)
ICS 200 is designed to enable personnel to operate efficiently during an incident or event within the Incident Command System (ICS). ICS-200 provides training on and resources for personnel who are likely to assume a supervisory position within the ICS.
IS-700.A: National Incident Management System (NIMS) (3-hours)
This course introduces and overviews the National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS provides a consistent nationwide template to enable all government, private-sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work together during domestic incidents.
IS-800.B: National Response Framework, An Introduction (3-hours)
The course introduces participants to the concepts and principles of the National Response Framework.
This last one took a bit more studying and I needed to print out some materials to help pass the final exam. I found reading for me is a much better method of study than listening to speakers or watching videos.
Here are a few additional courses required are within the FEMA Professional Development Series, which includes the following:
- IS-120.a An Introduction to Exercises
- IS-230.b Fundamentals of Emergency Management
- IS-235.b Emergency Planning
- IS-240.a Leadership & Influence
- IS-241.a Decision Making & Problem Solving
- IS-242.a Effective Communication
- IS-244.a Developing and Managing Volunteers
Community Emergency Response Teams – CERT Training
FEMA IS-317: Introduction to CERT (8-hours)
“Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams,” IS-317, is an independent study course that serves as an introduction to CERT for those wanting to complete training or as a refresher for current team members. It has six modules with topics that include an Introduction to CERT, Fire Safety, Hazardous Material and Terrorist Incidents, Disaster Medical Operations and Search and Rescue. It takes between six and eight hours to complete the course. Those who successfully finish it will receive a certificate of completion.
IS-317 can be taken by anyone interested in CERT. However, to become a CERT volunteer, one must complete the classroom training offered by a local government agency such as the emergency management agency, fire or police department. Contact your local emergency manager to learn about the local education and training opportunities available to you. Let this person know about your interest in taking CERT training.
CERT Training Videos
ARRL – Online Courses
EC-001 – Introduction to Emergency Communications ($50)
This course is designed to provide basic knowledge and tools for any emergency communications volunteer. The course has 6 sections with 29 lesson topics. It includes required student activities, a 35-question final assessment and is expected to take approximately 45 hours to complete over a 9-week period. You will have access to the course platform at any time of day during this 9-week period so you may work according to your own schedule. You must pace yourself to be sure you complete all the required material in the allotted time.
EC-016 – Public Service and Emergency Communications Management for Radio Amateurs ($35)
This course is designed to train licensed Amateur Radio operators who will be in leadership and managerial roles organizing other volunteers to support public service activities and communications emergencies. In this course you will learn how radio amateurs prepare and organize to support local community events, and, working in coordination with governmental and other emergency response organizations, deploy their services to provide communications when needed in an emergency.
The effects of severe weather are felt every year by many Americans. To obtain critical weather information, NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN with partner organizations. SKYWARN is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters.
PR-101 – Course & Information for Public Information Officers
This course is designed to give hams a quick overview in public relations activities. It uses the skills of experts in various aspects of public relations to provide volunteer Public Information Officers with the basic skills and expectations that a PIO needs to know to be effective in their home region. PR-101 covers everything from the basic news release to Web sites and video work.