This subject of disaster and public service communications is a lot like a big pot of stew. When you look into the pot, you see all kinds of ingredients mixed in there together, all mixed together, swirling around and bubbling.
You might be hard pressed to state exactly what the recipe was that amalgamated all those veggies and beef and spices and sauces into just the right proportions, but you know it all comes together really well and the end result is quite satisfying!
In many ways, that's how EMCOMM and public service communications works too. We bring together a lot of different people with varying skills and abilities, many different communications modes and a pile of equipment. Then we work to find the right mix to quickly provide ad hoc and well-planned communications when everything else around is going right to pot!
We are certainly not first responders. But we are quite often the first to respond with communications out of stricken areas. That's what hams are famous for.
So as a new member of ARES, don't get bogged down trying to reverse engineer this whole pot of stew at once. Instead, focus on one ingredient at a time. Get one aspect of this subject under your belt at a time. Pretty quickly, you'll understand how these different components all come together and work to make a difference in the lives of the people and agencies we are trying to help when all else fails.
The links on this page will get you started in the right direction. Begin at the top and just go through them one by one right to the bottom. Ask questions! Nobody here is a master at every single aspect of this vast subject, but we've got a tremendous resource of talent to help you and we're only a phone call or an email away.
John Wilson KD2AKX DEC
Getting Started in ARES