More than one professional in the field of Search and Rescue or Emergency Response Management has been known to say that “hams can be too much of a good thing.” What they refer to is the propensity of hams to respond en-mass to a call out without regard to their own skills, physical limitations, body condition, time commitment, and mental state.
Over time, these professionals, often “hams” themselves, reach a state where they decline to again issue a call out or utilize other hams in their operations. In essence, they’ve been “burned” once too often by the untrained and unskilled responders who think just because they hold an Amateur Radio license they are natural emergency operators. Their experience proves that merely holding a “ham” license does not an emergency responder make. It takes effort, study and training to be a good emergency responder. Search and Rescue teams know that because of their endless training and drills. They welcome with open arms seriously interested Radio Amateurs who have the self-discipline to undergo rigorous training similar to theirs and the commitment to stay with the program. Think about it. What kind of a potential responder are you? Are you in the small, but elite, fraternity of those highly trained and dedicated? Or are you in a larger group of those with a little training, a little knowledge and fluctuating interest? Or are you in the largest group that has no training, no knowledge of emergency communications, but feel you can help just because you have an Amateur Radio license? Which of these three groups would you like to have assisting if YOUR family’s life and well being were at stake? —-Cary Mangum, W6WWW
Originally published as RACES Bulletin 286, by the California Office of Emergency Services, on August 9, 1993