As a licensed radio operator, learning how to be an effective and properly trained volunteer will allow you to be an essential communications asset during a response to any emergency. During exercises and emergencies, your local ARES/RACES must comply with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) because when activated, its operations would function under the Incident Command System (ICS). This means you will need to complete some official training if you want to volunteer with your local ARES/RACES organization.
To help you become “qualified”, FEMA offers a few self-paced training courses relating to Emergency Management that are beneficial to HAM radio operators. All of these FEMA training courses are offered for free, online, thru the FEMA website. They are self-paced courses that you are able to proceed at your own pace through. Each online course is presented as slides that you will click through, and additional course materials are also available for download on the webpage for each course.
Once you complete the course you are then able to take an online exam, for which you will receive a certificate of completion if you pass. In my experience, after taking an exam, I was emailed my pass/fail status and certificate (if passed) within five minutes of completing the exam.
To initially begin any of the FEMA courses you will need to have first created a FEMA Student ID to log in with: https://cdp.dhs.gov/femasid
Basic, required courses:
- IS-100.c Introduction to the Incident Command System, ICS 100
- IS-200.c Basic Incident Command System for Initial Response
- IS-700.b An Introduction to the National Incident Management System
- IS-800.d National Response Framework, an Introduction
Advanced, optional courses:
- IS-120.c An Introduction to Exercises
- IS-230.e Fundamentals of Emergency Management
- IS-235.c Emergency Planning
- IS-240.c Leadership & Influence
- IS-241.c Decision Making & Problem Solving
- IS-242.b Effective Communications
- IS-244.b Developing & Managing Volunteers
Professional Development Series –
As an added perk to completing the courses I list above, you will receive a certificate from the FEMA Emergency Management Institute for finishing their Professional Development Series.
Optional but related courses: