ARES MOU with VDEM
Now Announcing: "ARES = RACES in Virginia"
Joe Safranek, K4JJS, PIC
With the signing of the historic new MOU between Virginia ARES and the Commonwealth of Virginia, now, when activated by an appropriate authority, ARES equals RACES in Virginia.
During activations requiring deployment of ARES personnel, a State RACES officer at the State EOC will direct the VA ARES SEC as to where emergency communications help is needed. The VA ARES SEC then will then assume the role of VA ARES-RACES Deployment Officer and will be responsible for the deployment of all VA ARES personnel and resources.
The MOU formally recognizes any REGISTERED VA ARES member as a registered RACES member in Virginia. Under the new MOU, a volunteer does enjoy limited protection from liability to the same extent as a state employee, provided they act within the scope of their training, the limits of this MOU, and the mission assigned by the agency.
The Commonwealth of Virginia and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management recognizes the ARRL Virginia Section Amateur Radio Emergency Service is an organization representing Virginia radio amateurs throughout the Commonwealth and because of its organized communications capability, can be of valuable assistance in providing critical and essential communications during emergencies and disasters when normal lines of communications are disrupted.
Section Manager Carl Clements, W4CAC, stated this about the new MOU: "This MOU now provides the opportunity for all of the independent RACES units operating within the Commonwealth of Virginia to join with ARES/RACES to complete the fabric of mutual assistance that will help us cooperatively cover the entire Commonwealth. We ask that they consider unification with us."
The Commonwealth is currently working with the federal government on a photo identification badging system that will result in state and federal recognition of credentials during deployments. As stated in the MOU "Until a Standardized Statewide Identification Credentialing System is established in the Commonwealth of Virginia for emergency responders, to include State activated VA ARES/RACES personnel, it is suggested that the ARRL/VA ARES provide a uniform picture identification card for all of its registered members in the State." More information pertaining to this ID badge system will be forthcoming.
Section Emergency Coordinator Ron Sokol, K4KHZ, opined "This is an exciting time for amateur radio operators in Virginia. We have come a long way in developing a partnership with the Commonwealth providing an emergency communications infrastructure for the Commonwealth through the hard work and dedication of many individuals over the past several years. This MOU is the basis of our commitment to serving our citizens and guests in Virginia during emergencies and we will strive to accomplish this important task to the best of our abilities.
The VDEM staff will be getting out copies of the MOU to all VA jurisdictions to assist in making a smooth transition.