When Amateurs grow up….

Happy Halloween everyone!! Here’s a spoooooooky post from an anonymous submitter:

I’ve been subscribed to the mailing list http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WCFARES/ for a while now and think that some of the posts are ridiculous. WCF (West Central Florida) is some sort of “official” ARRL section they have set up over here.

The one post which I thought might have been worthy of a Hamsexy submission was this little ditty:

Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:30 pm
SUBJECT: A “new” nickname?

With all the advanced training a lot of us have or are going through, it
sounds kind of “amateur” to be calling ourselves Amateurs, and calling
ourselves hams … doesn’t help evoke any sense of professionalism.

I think we need to come up with a new technical and professional
sounding word for ourselves! Emergency Communicator is OK … but kind
of long and doesn’t really stand out and make an impression!


Ron Wetjen ”


Then he replied to himself;

Tue Oct 24, 2006 3:33 pm

> I think we need to come up with a new technical and professional
> sounding word for ourselves!

After a little thinking, I thought of “Communications Specialist”.

Some poking around, and I discovered there is a “Communications
Specialist” position in the ICS system!

The position description below refers to the position on a Search &
Rescue team, but take that out, and it describes what we do and what we
should know perfectly! (Haven’t found anything yet, on the FEMA
Communications Specialist Course other than maybe IS-242)

“Communications Specialist” sure sounds a LOT better than “Amateur” …
and since it’s already in the ICS system, everyone already has an idea
of what it is!


Position Description:


The task force Communications Specialist is responsible for managing the
communications system for the task force during incident operations. The
Communications Specialist reports directly to the Technical Team Manager.

Description of Duties

The Communications Specialist is responsible for:

Participating in the development of the Communications Plan.

Assessing overall needs and developing the Task Force Incident
Communications Plan.

Obtaining frequencies, installation, operation, and maintenance of the
task force communications system during incident operations.

Coordinating communications with other appropriate entities including
the IST Communication Unit Leader.

Adhering to all safety procedures.

Accountability, maintenance, and minor repairs for all issued equipment.

Maintaining appropriate records and reports.

Performing additional tasks or duties as assigned during a mission.

Maintaining the communications cache in an operational state at all times.

Monitoring all task force communications.

Developing requests for ordering replacements for consumable items and
items lost damaged or destroyed.

Position Requirements and Criteria

Individuals who meet the following requirements and criteria will be
eligible to become Communications Specialists in the FEMA US&R Response
System. The intent of these requirements is to select personnel capable
of managing the communications needs of the task force in the urban
disaster environment. The requirements and criteria for the position are
identified in the following categories:



1. Must have practical knowledge of current telecommunications theory.
2. Must have a working knowledge of the parameters of task force
communications equipment including:

Power requirements
Frequency programming
Field troubleshooting

3. Knowledge of incident communications planning and frequency management.

4. Knowledge of radio protocols and operational discipline.

5. Knowledge of amateur radio skills and operations, land mobile radio,
telephone, and satellite systems.

6. Must have completed the FEMA Communications Specialist Course.


1. Ability to work with and effectively communicate within the task
force and with other entities regarding communications issues.

2. Ability to effectively organize and plan during crisis situations.

3. Have a working knowledge of computers and applications.

4. Ability to program communications equipment.


1. Ability to anticipate and plan for task force communications needs.

2. Ability to instruct task force members in the correct use of
communications equipment while deployed in a disaster environment.

3. Able to work at heights to place antennas, repeaters, etc.

4. Must be able to communicate effectively orally and in writing.

Ron Wetjen ”

They have my membership on “Moderated Status” and they will not let any of my replies go through, so here is my attempted response:

Just call your self amateurs because that is what you are. A professional is someone who does something FOR A LIVING, such as fire chiefs, dispatchers, or police command bus crews. They are not amateurs. They are they the REAL Emergency Communicators, just to keep things in perspective.

Amateur radio is the backup plan to the backup plan. It’s a great resource when ALL else fails. If you walk around calling yourself a “Communications Specialist”, you will look like a complete and total ASS-CLOWN, which to me will give others a bad impression about ARES.

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7 Responses to When Amateurs grow up….

  1. kg4ere says:

    Just pick a random time and listen to most local 2M reppeaters and you will quickly discover why the name “amatuer” is so fitting. Ham radio is great when really needed, but for the most part it is amatuer. Hamfests are living proof of that. Tell me the last time you went to a real communications conference or training event and saw everyone walking around with 15 call sign name tages and public safety vests on.

  2. WA4MJF says:

    Does that mean the Chief of a Volunteer Fire
    Department is an amateur?

    Some amateur chiefs around here are just as
    good on the fireground as some professional
    fire chiefs. Also, some amateur fire chiefs
    are not as good as professional fire chiefs
    and vice versa.

    It is NOT what you call yourself it is how
    you do the task.

    73 de Ronnie

  3. zerobeat says:

    “Amateur” is what our licenses say.

    When we are serving in a communications capacity, we may be “volunteers”. The word “volunteer” has always held a special place. Volunteers are respected and thanked. A volunteer CAN be fired for doing the job badly, but you could not have an amateur’s license revoked if his communications skills were poor.

    I propose “communications volunteer” is an honorable and descriptive title.

    If a person isn’t doing the task correctly, remove them from the list of approved volunteers.

    One of the problems with ARES and EMCOMM stuff is that the people can’t fail…they sit and take classes, and then answer questions on very dumbed-down tests. Their actual ability to communicate and make decisions is never challenged…and that’s where things go wrong.

  4. X9F says:

    I’m surprised no one has suggested a more simpler, one-word title for these people. “WHACKER”. Fits them to a tee!

  5. KC9FSH says:

    I’ll agree with X9F that “Whacker” is the term that this guy is looking for

  6. AA0CX says:

    “WHACKER” is appropriate: also “Wannabees.” They’re action starved people with a radio license who seem to show up at accidents, fires, and other mayhem like a moth to a flame. You can spot ’em a mile away — they have “semi-official” looking vehicles (nowdays generally white or black SUV’s, with several antennae and a visibar on the top of the vehicle, sometimes with blue lights, sometime with amber. Can you hear them now? “Here I am, to save the day…”

    Now, I know some fine amateurs who are involved in government disaster work, or the Salvation Army, I’m *NOT* talking about these guys…disaster/emergency work is their profession.

    I’m referring to the halfwits, dimwits, and nitwits who can’t settle for being an AMATEUR RADIO OPERATOR.

  7. exkalibur says:

    Exactly the reason I gave up on ARES years ago. I think the average age in the group I was with was 50. Other than myself, the next guy in age was 35 y/o (ironically, a police dispatcher). I’m ALL for helping out where that help truely is needed, but I think all this ARES crap is over the top. It’s kinda like planning for what will never happen.

    And you KNOW what’s going to happen when “the big one” hits, that ARES has been planning for? All the old f*cks will forget how to use their radio, the powers-that-be won’t be reachable, and everyone’s battery will be dead from that long QSO they had the night before.

    Sorry but it’s true. See, I used to be the other way around. I used to defend ARES tooth and nail, thinking it was the best thing since sliced bread. Hell, I even remember telling a teacher in school that I might have to take off at a moment’s notice if my phone rings. Boy was I a frekin IDIOT.

    CLASSIC example, and I just don’t think there IS a better example. Remember the blackout in 2003? Where the hell was Toronto ARES? If there was ever a time when their help could be used, it was then. They were nowhere to be found – ANYWHERE! They claimed after the fact that they were using VHF simplex for a net. Fine, but why? The repeaters all had backup power. Infact, Bryan (VE3HBD), Justin (VE3UDP) and myself conducted a “net” on VE3TWR (until we killed it) and VE3YYZ, providing the amateur community with up to the second information as to what had happened and taking information and requests for assistance. I was stuck at a TTC subway station doing what I could to help. A TTC Inspector heard my radio yacking with updates…he then handed me his radio and said “Here, call our dispatcher and tell them what’s going on”, so I passed along information from Bryan – to which the TTC’s dispatcher was extremly grateful as they had no idea what was going on.

    But my original question – WHERE WAS ARES??? Shitting themsevles, I’m sure.

    aaaaaaanyway… Our license (up here anyway) says “Certificate of Proficiency in Amateur Radio”. What more do you need? I’ve described ARES before as “Volunteer Radio Operators”…fine, use that if you don’t like the sound of “amateur”. I’ve also got a General Operator’s Certificate for maratime…maybe I should call my self a General Radio Operator 😛

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