Amateur Radio Emergency Services Association (ARES)

 Sumter County, Florida


What is it?

AUXCOMM is a Communications Course developed by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications that focuses on radio communications and provides a broad knowledge of the fundamental principles of communication systems used to support public safety and emergency response professionals and their agencies and aligns with both ICS and NIMS.

The course is designed to teach volunteer Amateur Radio Communicators a number of essential topics that will assist them in working with the Communications Leader (COM-L) and the Communication Technical Lead (COM-T) during a disaster.   The course covers the responsibilities, roles, and functions within the Communications Unit, as well as roles and function of the auxiliary emergency communicator.

The course outline is as follows:

  • Identify position within the Communications Unit.
  • Describe responsibilities of position within the Communications Unit, including auxiliary emergency communications volunteers.
  • Describe the planning cycle
  • Identify other agencies/organizations responsible for coordination and providing assets
  • Describe the functions of an Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

How does this relate to ARES?  Our served agencies want to know and understand our level of training.  Having an Amateur Radio license is not enough.  They want a minimum level of FEMA's ICS training and other courses.  AUXCOMM is a path to that level of comfort that our aligns with typical First Responder training.

AUXCOM training is typically done by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) trained volunteers with the courses offered several times a year at various locations.

What are the requirements for before attending training?

Prerequisites for attendance are:

  • An active FCC amateur radio license and submitting a copy of the license

  • Completion of the latest version of IS-100, IS-200, IS-700, and IS-800 and submitting certifications

  • Submittal of past experience in auxiliary emergency communications

  • A desire to work with COML's in a NIMS/ICS environment.

After the above is submitted, it will be reviewed and the students who are eligible to participate in the course are notified. 

What does the course cover?

The are ten modules that are covered in twenty hours.  The pace was quick, but with enough time given to take in all the key and necessary aspects of what was being taught.

Course content is as follows:

  1. Introduction

  2. The Communications Unit and the EOC

  3. Auxiliary Emergency Communicator (AEC) Role

  4. Interoperable Communications

  5. Incident Communication

  6. Incident Radio Communications Plan (ICS Form)

  7. Incident Communications Center

  8. Team Management and Accountability

  9. Resources

  10. Intrastate and Interstate Radio Networks

  11. Final Exercise Exam

In addition, the exercises built on the previous training and became increasing complex using the necessary ICS paperwork associated with each of these incidents followed by presentations.   The "Final Exam" brought everything together. 

Successfully blending Amateur Radio and Disaster Response require training, decorum, the willingness to help with any situation (not just communications), and above all, professionalism.  The willingness to blend in, get the job done with a minimal amount of attention to yourself or Amateur Radio are what is needed.  In fact, if you follow those guidelines, the Amateur Radio Service and Amateur Radio operators will be well received and asked to come back for future incidents.    

How would I be used?

At the end of the course, you are asked whether you want to be placed on a callout list or not.  If you accept, you name is placed on a list with the State Emergency Management Agency.  You could be called out in-State or out-of-state, for example, the Western Wildfires. Either way you should become more valuable to your county and your emergency communications team.

Skills that are highly desired

Net control operators and messaging capabilities.


 Last Update:  06/28/2018    Copyright Sumter County ARES. All Rights Reserved.