FAQ

ACES Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Oregon ACES program?

Oregon ACES was formed to develop a training and certification program for amateur radio emergency communicators.

What is an "amateur radio emergency communicator"?

An amateur radio emergency communicator is a volunteer professional that serves a particular entity, providing a backup or auxiliary method of communication.  This covers amateur radio operators serving government and private organizations, including those that are members of ARES, RACES, ACS, CERT, MARS, CAP, and other volunteer services.

How do I join?

Oregon ACES is not an organization with membership, so there is nothing to "join".  Our goal is to promote training of amateur radio emergency communicators through a multi-level certification course as well as regular exercises to further skill development.  If you support our efforts, you can sign up to be a supporter.  If you would like to be informed of activities including training opportunities, you can sign up for the announcement list.  We'll notify you of what is going on.

How is your course different from the ARRL ARECC course?

The ARECC course provides a lot of valuable information for amateur radio operators, and specifically ARES members.  As you would expect from the national organization for amateur radio, the content is directed mainly towards amateur communications and specifically the national ARES program.

The criteria for passing the program does not include demonstration of any of the skills covered in the course, nor does it require that you own or have ever operated a radio.  The Oregon ACES program has a practical application portion of the course where you must demonstrate proficiency in the operation of your radio by passing messages and programming your radio.

Why is this important for Emergency Managers and Served Agencies?

Amateur radio operators are a resource that served agencies will depend on in an emergency.  Emergency Managers need to be able to quantify the available local pool, as well as those that would be required from adjacent jurisdictions in various emergency scenarios.  The Oregon ACES resource typing system, combined with the documented training required to be classified as such, provides a way for officials to plan appropriately.  By standardizing this across a region, mutual aid requests and deployments become easier.

Isn't this in competition with the ARRL and the ARES program?

No.  Most of us developing and participating in this program are ARRL members, ARECC graduates and participate in ARES activities as well.  The training and certification being developed by Oregon ACES is designed to meet the needs of all served agencies and amateur operators.  The ACES concept continues to support ARES as one of many emergency communication programs available to the served agencies while allowing the served agency the control to manage the resources.

What gives you the authority to do this?

The people involved in developing and administering the program have been providing training and mentoring in Oregon for ARES and RACES in Oregon for many years.  The purpose of this group is to help unify some of the common parts of those various efforts into a single documented program.

I've already taken ARECC courses, do I get credit for those?

While those are good courses, and much of the material used for teaching the ACES courses is in agreement with the ARRL courses, the ACES courses are different.  In the ACES courses, students are required to actually demonstrate their ability to perform the tasks needed for emcomm, which isn't required in the ARECC courses.   At this time there are no plans to allow credit for the ARECC courses.

Isn't there a State sponsored ARES/RACES training program?

No.  There are several groups providing training at a variety of levels, but without a 'program' in place, and without the training being standardized, there is no way to tell when a person is 'qualified' for the job.  What is being offered presently is often good informative training, and much of what is being offered will be included in the ACES program.  The difference is that ACES developed a 'program' with a specific curriculum and skills that must be demonstrated prior to 'certification' to a particular level. 

What is the NRCEV?

The National Registry of Communications Emcomm Volunteers is an independant National organization that recognizes accredited training and skills demonstration to grant a National Certificate.  Oregon ACES has developed their program to be in harmony with the NRCEV program.    Operators who pass the ACES course will be able to get recognition for their training when they apply to the NRCEV for a National Certificate.

I heard Oregon ACES was also having communications exercises that I can participate in?

Yes.  Oregon ACES will sponsor several Auxiliary Communications Tests every year so that operators can exercise their learned skills.  These ACT's will be published on the website in advance and are open to all amateurs.  Threre will be some common goals and suggestions but we expect the exercise to focus on meeting your served agencies needs.  There are no grades, no points to be earned, and if you close out the event by filling out the form on the website, each participant can receive a Certificate of Participation for the event.

Doesn't ARES already have communications exercises?

Yes they do.  However, Oregon ACES recognizes many more organizations who have amateur radio operators and wish to train and practice as well.  The ACES ACT's are open to all amateurs (ARES, RACES, CERT, ACS, etc.) and allow for all operators to train and work together.

Why can't I take your course online from my home?

Some of the program content will be available online.  However, Oregon ACES believes that "Learning is an observable change in behavior", and that a majority of the training should be provided to students in an environment where they can immediately apply their newly learned concepts and develop the skills needed for certification.  Once the course work is ratified, some of the courses will be developed for online access, but there will always be a practical participation element to the course.

How much does it cost for your course?

Oregon ACES is determined to make sure that training is available as affordable as possible by developing the content in a modular format and implementing a 'train the trainer' program.   Since each class requires a student workbook and associated materials, the classes will not be more than $25.  Some classes may cost the user less if sponsored by a local agency.

How long are the certifications good for?

The certificate is valid for three (3) years.  Any skills-based certification should require some maintenance (in the form of continuing education) and possibly recertification.  Other volunteer professionals such as volunteer fire or Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel have these requirements.  There are six (6) hours of continuing education to be documented when applying to renew your certification.

Can ARES utilize this training program?

Yes, several units already are! At the national organization level, ARES is very supportive of training.  Every effort has been made by the development team to include various local emcomm resources including ARES in the development of the program.  After inital development of the Basic Operator outline, it was posted and we encouraged input from everyone to make sure that content covered would meet everyone's needs. 

Does this replace the need for local training?

Absolutely not.  The ACES program curriculum is designed to provide the broad background valuable to all emergency communications operators.  It dramatically reduces the scope of training necessary for the local teams to manage to the processes and systems unique to that agency.  It will still be necessary to understand who the local players are, what resources are available, how the local radio systems work and the process flow inside the EOC.