Here are some questions and answers for people considering joining AREC.
- What is the process for joining AREC, and requirements? What obligations/commitments are associated?
- AREC membership is open to all suitable members of NZART.
- The decision on suitability is at the discretion of the local group leader who enrolls new members and notifies the AREC national secretary.
- See section 5 of the AREC rules here for full details on the membership process.
- You can contact he North Shore AREC group leader at arec (art) nsrc (dort) nz (subject: Membership%20query%20via%20website) for more information.
The level of involvement in AREC depends on your circumstances and preferences, however there are some basic expectations for all members.
- Regular participation in AREC training, meetings and activities consistent with your circumstances.
- Be readily contactable by email and cellphone.
- Have adequate transport to respond to call outs without delay.
- Keep AREC updated of any changes to your contact details and home address.
- Comply with the requirements of client agencies, including, for those members involved in SAR communications attendance at appropriate NZ LandSAR training sessions.
- Maintaining a level of technical and operational capability and competence consistent with your experience and the AREC role in providing critical communications.
- Demonstrate an appropriate level of maturity and judgement for the role.
Currently AREC is undergoing some significant changes to ensure that the members are given the training and resources needed for their role. This is likely to involve a grading of members into categories based on their training and demonstrated practical capabilities. In order to achieve a particular category it is likely that completion of specific training or practical experience will be mandatory.
- In what ways can I participate/help?
There is a wide range of options depending on your interests and capabilities.
The two main client agencies for AREC are Search and Rescue, (NZ Police and NZ LandSAR) and Civil Defence and Emergency Management (in Auckland this is the responsibility of Auckland Emergency Management- a department of Auckland Council)
In addition to these agencies, AREC frequently provides public service communications for car rallies, public parades, sports events and other similar events which require disciplined communications. Although not emergencies these types of event provide valuable training for members.
The options for participation include:
Search and Rescue – AREC members provide communications for NZ LandSAR at search field headquarters. Their role is to manage all radio comms between search teams and the incident management team, and to track and log search team activity, either manually or using SARTrack tracking and incident management software. AREC is integrated into the NZ LandSAR organization and members fulfilling this role are expected to act as part of the LandSAR team and are on call for operations and exercises via the LandSAR callout system.
People involved in the SAR side of AREC will need to have or develop the following capabilities:
- Set up and operate field base station equipment in remote areas
- Deploy and use portable repeaters
- Be capable of establishing and operating an HF field station
- Understand search and rescue techniques and terminology
- Be able to operate as part of a team under the control of a police or LandSAR incident controller
- Be computer literate
- Have the ability to maintain accurate and detailed logs
Civil Defence and Emergency Management
AREC operate the Auckland Emergency Management VHF radio network on behalf of the Auckland Emergency Coordination Centre.
The primary role of AREC during emergencies will be facilitating radio communications within and between local Community Resilience Groups, the Auckland Emergency Coordination Centre, New Zealand Response Teams and other agencies or groups as required. Communication may make use of the AEM owned VHF radio network and equipment, AREC and member owned amateur radio equipment, and such other equipment and systems which may be appropriate to a specific situation.
People involved in the Auckland CDEM side of AREC will need to have or develop the following capabilities:
- Have a good understanding of the CDEM VHF radio network, communication systems used by community
response groups throughout the Auckland region, equipment and systems at the 400 East Coast Road base
- Be able to establish a CDEM comms net on the AEM radio network
- Operate a CDEM net control station
- Understand the message handling protocols and the relationships between AEM and community volunteer groups
- Re-locate the communication functions of 400 East Coast Road to another site at short notice
- Deploy and use CDEM portable repeaters
- Have a good understanding of the Coordinated Incident Management System, the structure and role of the Emergency Coordination Centre, and the role of various agencies in a civil defence emergency
- Be able to operate as part of a team under the control of a CDEM controller
- Be computer literate
- Have the ability to maintain accurate and detailed logs.
- Have good verbal communication and questioning skills
In addition to the core activities outlined above, there are many other opportunities for people with particular skills and aptitudes to assist in AREC without necessarily taking part in the “front line” operations. These include:
Training – the ability to deliver effective training to groups, both AREC members and members of community groups. Topics range from technical, operating procedures, personal communication skills, etc.
Technical support. – Electronic, computer, maintenance, electronic design, etc
Home station operators – people who may not be able to deploy to the field but can monitor, relay and provide support from a home station.
Liaison roles – People able to liaise with AREC partner agencies and groups.
Organisation and administrative skills. Maintaining membership lists, technical writing, standard operating procedures, recording and updating information.
Exercise design skills
3. Is there formal training required to participate in official activities?
Not at present but as mentioned above AREC is undergoing change and in the future certain types of role may require certification which could require specific training or demonstrated skills. The categorisation process that AREC are considering would include a Trainee/Learner category that would allow people to gain experience by participating in operations under supervision.
4. What is a typical agenda of an AREC meeting?
At North Shore we avoid a formal meetings with agendas, minutes, points of order etc. We generally try to have meetings which focus on practical activity, training or discussion on relevant topics. Our meetings are focused on doing stuff rather than just talking about it. We are always keen to receive ideas for meeting topics and activities from members.
5. The regular weekly "Radio Check" that is on the calendar, what does that involve?
One of AREC’s roles on behalf of AEM is to operate the Civil defence VHF radio network. This consists of 7 repeaters throughout Auckland which are used to communicated with community resilience groups in emergencies. As part of the program to ensure this network is fully operational we conduct checks every Wednesday morning between 0830 and 0930 hrs. This involves ensuring that the repeaters and outstation radios are operating by establishing contact with all the outstations on the network. In addition to the CRG stations we also check comms with the Emergency Coordination Centre and the various key agencies which are involved in Civil Defence operations. In addition to the VHF checks we also test the Civil Defence HF equipment on 5MHz by calling other Civil defence stations in the Northern North Island. We have a core group of people (oldies mainly) who are available on Wednesday mornings to do this, but anyone is welcome to assist, and we are considering alternative times for the checks to allow more people to get involved.
6. Are there specific procedures/protocols observed by AREC? and if so what are they?
Yes. AREC operates using the internationally standardised radio procedures, phonetics, and procedure words.used by other services such as marine, aviation and military. Where client agencies have their own communication requirements we comply with their procedures and processes particularly with regard to recording and message routing etc..We do not use Amateur radio procedures such as Q codes, home made phonetics or social chit chat during emergency communications.
7. I notice it appears AREC makes use of DMR, I have a DMR handheld, and have spent quite a bit of time getting very familiar with the mode. Is this useful/appropriate in some way?
Yes there is a national UHF DMR network in place with repeaters in most of the larger centres. (439.7 MHz negative 5MHz split in Auckland). A specifc talkgroup (“ZK”) is provided for nationwide AREC operations. The monthly AREC group leaders net is held on both HF (3550 kHz USB) and the DMR talkgroup on the third Monday of each month (2030 for HF and 2100 for DMR. This allows AREC groups throughout the country to keep abreast of happenings on a regular basis.
So to summarise, there are lots of opportunities for people who would like to put their amateur radio skills and knowledge to use for the public benefit. AREC which has been in decline for some time is making efforts to rejuvenate itself and provide training and opportunities for members to become competent in emergency communications using modern technology. We welcome new blood and enthusiasm with open arms.
If you are interested in becoming a member of AREC contact the North Shore group leader at arec (art) nsrc (dort) nz (subject: Membership%20query%20via%20website)