ARES Teams are structured in accordance with the ICS and FEMA NIMS guidance.
Becoming an ARES Team Member:
Anyone with a valid Amateur Radio License can apply to become an ARES member. However, additional training in several FEMA NIMS modules is required, in order to participate in most critical incidents. How quickly an applicant successfully completes FEMA modules (IS-100; IS-200; IS-700 and IS-800) affects the level of the applicant's potential participation. FEMA offers these courses free online, on their FEMA Training website. Anyone interested in completing the training will have to create a student account ID prior to taking the modules.
Most often, ARES members are integrated into rapidly changing, high stress incidents. Their primary purpose is to assist in support of, or even to replace, lines of communication that have been disrupted by the event. These types of incidents would reasonably be mitigated by various aspects of one or more agencies, and reliable communications becomes a top imperative. Therefore, ARES members must have an above average working knowledge of the Incident Command Structure (ICS) and the FEMA National Incident Management System (NIMS) to be smoothly acclimated with those various agencies.
“AUXCOMM” is an umbrella term and acronym for “auxiliary communications.”
It was developed by CISA (Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Administration) in 2009, with the assistance of amateur radio subject matter experts. The concept behind the acronym was to educate amateur radio entities to work and train with public safety personnel; understand the value of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) concept; and the role of the Communications Unit Leader (COML). AUXCOMM is recognized and has been implemented by the State of Florida.
CISA/AUXCOMM requires, as a minimum, the successful completion of the FEMA courses that were listed above. Although A.R.E.S. members are primarily tasked with supporting their local agencies and private corporate partners, in order for A.R.E.S. members to be considered for official deployment outside of their normal geographical boundaries, they would have to be trained and certified in the AUXCOMM program.