Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to questions you may have about Rockdale County ARES, Georgia ARES or ARES in general:
- HOW DO I JOIN RCA?
One excellent way is to attend a monthly meeting. There you will meet many of the current members and have an opportunity to ask questions. We will have applications for membership there. See the home page for the date and time of our next meeting. You will find a printable membership application form on the Member Resources page. Print it out, fill in the requested information and bring to a meeting or copy and email to webmaster.
- WHAT DO I NEED TO JOIN?
You need to be a licensed amateur radio operator.
- DO I NEED TO JOIN RCA TO ATTEND A MEETING OR TWO? Visitors are welcome.
- DO I NEED TRAINING?
Well, yes, but how much training you get is largely up to you. We do require that, in order to join RCA, you take the Georgia ARES basic training course, available online. Or, you may take the Gwinnett County ARES basic trainIng course, also online. They are basically the same. We will need the results from your end-of-course exam.You could also take the ARRL EC-001 course.
- WHERE CAN I FIND TRAINING MATERIAL?http://www.gaares.org or http://arrl.org/ares or http://www.gwinnettares.org/training.htm are all excellent resources. Also check out http://training.fema.gov/IS/NIMS.aspx .
- OH COME ON, IS TRAINING REALLY THAT IMPORTANT? DON'T YOU GUYS NEED VOLUNTEERS? Volunteers are the essence of our organization. Hmmm, what was that word? Organization? That says it all. If we do not train, we will not be organized. If we are not organized, we cannot properly respond to an emergency. We will be assisting and working with professionals. Without training and organization, we will not be respected by, nor asked to return by those professionals. Plus, without training and organization, how can we expect to serve our community in its time of need? Yes, training is important.
- IS THAT ALL THE TRAINING YOU GUYS DO?No, we conduct exercises on our own from time-to-time, we have a weekly on-the-air net and we participate in statewide and national drills as well.
- CAN I GET ONE OF THOSE ARES BADGES LIKE THE EC AND THE AEC WEAR? If you are an ARES official as defined by the ARRL you can, at your own cost. That's not our rule, that's an ARRL rule.
- WHERE AND WHEN DO YOU GUYS AND GALS MEET?We meet on the second Thursday of each month at the Rockdale County Fire Department Training Annex on Iris Drive, just east of Sigman Road, Conyers, GA. Time is 7:30PM.
- AREN'T ALL THE IMPORTANT POSITIONS FILLED ALREADY? EVERY job in ARES is important. Having a 'title' doesn't make one volunteer more important than another. It simply adds to organization. There are plenty of tasks to go around and we appreciate anything you can add. If you have a special skill, be sure to bring it to attention of your Emergency Coordinator. If you just want to do SOMETHING/ANYTHING, let us know. There is always something that needs attention and could further the goals of ARES. Speak up!
- I HAVE A JOB AND A FAMILY AND CAN'T ALWAYS PARTICIPATE. WHAT NOW? Not a problem. All of us have some limitations. Volunteer for what you can reasonably expect to handle.
- DO I NEED TO GO OUT AND BUY A BUNCH OF FANCY EQUIPMENT ? No. It's likely you already have much of what you might need. In some cases, you might be using equipment that is provided by the served agency you are volunteering at. That could be a hospital, the county emergency operations center, etc. For your own personal use, a handie-talkie might work, but a mobile unit might be better, especially if we are operating simplex. Yes, a base unit might fit the bill too. There are different situations calling for different solutions. The ability to operate using digital modes is becoming important too.
- DO I NEED THOSE FANCY VESTS, HATS, SHIRTS, NAME TAGS AND SO ON? No, but some of those items could prove useful. For instance, if you are in an area with moving vehicles, you might want higher than normal visibility for yourself. If you are out in the sun for extended periods, you might want a hat. If you want to make it easier for the authorities in charge (not us) to identify you, you might want a badge or shirt. (Members WILL receive an RCA ID). We are not fireman/policeman wannabees. We are a professional volunteer organization with a simple goal of providing emergency communication for our served agencies, whoever they may be. We operate at their convenience, not ours. If what you wear helps you meet that simple goal, fine.
- HAVE YOU GUYS & GALS EVER 'DONE ANYTHING'? Well, yes we have! Notably, there was the Blizzard of 1993 and the Bio-Lab fire of 2004. However, we do not wish for disasters just so we can go out and play radio. We are simply regular citizens with a skill that can aid our community in time of need.
- AREN'T YOU JUST A BUNCH OF NERDY GEEKS WITH NOTHING BETTER TO DO?Call us what you will but we have members from all walks of life and all ages, all with a simple desire: To provide communications assistance to our community, should they need it. Our members come from many different professions and have many different interests in amateur radio, including emergency service. I assure you we ALL have something to do besides being nerdy geeks. You might just be surprised if you knew!
- I WANT SOME EXCITEMENT. CAN YOU OFFER THAT? No, we don't offer anything other than an opportunity for YOU to offer something. ARES is a group effort. The Emergency Coordinator is not an entertainment director. He or she is a person tasked with the goal of organizing and maintaining a group of people, plans and equipment to be ready for emergency situations. ARES membership CAN be fun, but don't expect it to be if you are not actively participating. Any volunteer group functions far better if ALL of its members are active and seeking to better it. Got an idea? Great! We want to hear it. Want to be a decision-maker? Want to be responsible for something? There's a place for you. Want to be entertained? Go to the movies.
- HEY! WILL THE COUNTY BUY US SOME NEAT STUFF TO PLAY WITH? Nope. The county may purchase some equipment that you will be allowed to use, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE CITIZENS OF THE COUNTY. You may have a chance to practice with that equipment from time-to-time, but it will belong to the county and will be used for training or real situations only.
- YOU'RE BUMMING ME OUT. WHY WOULD I WANT TO JOIN ARES ANYWAY? One of the basic needs of mankind is to communicate. ARES members like to communicate by radio. If that doesn't interest you, look elsewhere. Our feelings won't be hurt. If you like communicating by radio, and the thought of being able to do so while serving your community in its time of need appeals to you, ARES might just be the place for you. It's that simple.