ARRL’s Emergency Communications Advisory Committee Moves Forward with MDEC Plans
At the 2007 Annual Meeting of the ARRL Board of Directors, the ARRL National Emergency Response Planning Committee -- led by then-ARRL Vice President Kay Craigie, N3KN -- presented a report to the Board that outlined how the League should respond to emergencies. One of the key concepts proposed by the committee was the Major Disaster Emergency Coordinator (MDEC) appointment. The idea was to have a manager who would coordinate Amateur Radio operations, operators and resources in supporting served agencies during a major disaster relief operation when Section and Regional ARES® assets are overwhelmed, similar to operations performed in the Hurricane Katrina response. The MDEC’s line of authority would be derived from the ARRL’s Emergency Preparedness Manager -- currently Mike Corey, W5MPC -- and would parallel the affected area’s Section Managers. The MDEC position was envisioned to be a continuous appointment, but would only be active when called upon by the Emergency Preparedness Manager.
The ARRL Emergency Communications Advisory Committee (ECAC) -- established at the 2010 Annual Meeting -- is currently drafting appointment protocols and requirements for the MDEC. As presently conceived by the committee, there will be several MDECs geographically arranged by each ARRL Division. The geography, and hence the actual MDEC headcount, is being determined at this time. The committee will report its recommendations and draft appointment guidelines to the ARRL’s Programs and Services Committee.
The report recommended that the MDEC be responsible for the “establishment of an as-needed emergency communications structure -- the Disaster Field Team -- designed to fulfill served agency requests and/or augment the existing Field Services structure established by the Section Manager.” The Disaster Field Team (DFT) would be assembled from the ARRL national ARES® database. The purpose of the DFT would be to provide support for the infrastructure of relief organizations bringing resources into the disaster zone, and cannot be served by the local Field Organization. The MDEC function has been tested in exercises with served agencies and ARES® with success.
ECAC members are exceptionally qualified and recognized members of the Emergency Communications community. ECAC members include: Chairman Dale Williams, WA8EFK (Great Lakes); Jim Cross, WI3N (Atlantic); Bill Niemuth, KB9ENO (Central); Jim Zahradnicek, KD0S (Dakota); Jim Coleman, AI5B (Delta); Jim Mezey, W2KFV (Hudson); Reynolds Davis, K0GND (Midwest); Dave Colter, WA1ZCN (New England); Gordon Grove, WA7LNC (Northwestern); James Latham, AF6AQ (Pacific); Charlie Miller, AE4UX (Roanoke); Jeff Ryan, K0RM (Rocky Mountain); Rick Palm, K1CE (Southeastern); Grant Hays, WB6OTS (Southwestern); Glen Reid, K5FX (West Gulf), and Doug Mercer, VO1DTM (Radio Amateurs of Canada). The Board liaison is Mickey Cox, K5MC, and the ARRL HQ liaison is Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, W5MPC.