What is it?
AUXCOMM (Auxiliary Communications) is the term used by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to identify adjunct and volunteer communication resources that augment the full time paid staff. Individuals can perform any communication related task that their training and experience has prepared them for. The Incident Command System (ICS) structure recognizes and places AUXCOMM personnel as applicable.
Non-affiliated individuals, and members of volunteer emergency and disaster communication groups such as ARES, MARS, RACES, REACT, and SATERN, along with several faith-based groups, can use their skills and training to support local government emergency management agencies in time of need. The local Emergency Management agency or Civil Preparedness authority directs the utilization of the communication resources. They alone are in the best position to identify and prioritize needs in their jurisdiction.
The key to utilizing the resource is to know what that resource can do based on the training and experience of the individual. This requires prior registration of that individual with the emergency management agency having jurisdiction. Registration that identifies the individual, their skills and training, is required by DHS and FEMA in order for the agency to qualify for applicable federal funding.
The agency is responsible for the actions of the volunteer and directed to provide for the safety and welfare of that individual as though they were a regular employee. The agency may also provide site-specific training.
What Was Old is New Again!
We’ve almost come full circle from the original concept of the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) to AUXCOMM. The concepts of prior registration, documented training, and the agency with jurisdiction managing the resource are core requirements to both programs. As the agency directs the individual, they are then legally liable for the actions of that individual. Prior registration gives the agency management the measure of the resources that will be available, and the capabilities of the individuals. Documented training and certification is absolutely necessary for emergency management to consider placement of the volunteer, both to protect the volunteer and the agency.
SCRACES and AUXCOMM
Sussex County RACES (SCRACES) will adopt and work within the concepts of AUXCOMM as provided for by DHS and FEMA. Eventually the RACES acronym will be retired and replaced by AUXCOMM. Members of the RACES program will note some change in the operations of the group. There will be a greater emphasis put on the practices of the Incident Command system (ICS). This is in line with the changes coming in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) as ICS becomes a greater part of the operations structure.