WHAT IS AUXCOMM?
AuxComm is the DHS National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliant program adopted by North Carolina Emergency Management (NCEM) for all amateur radio emergency / public service communications within the state. While AuxComm stands for Auxiliary Communications, within the state of North Carolina AuxComm is considered a Primary Emergency Communications Asset. Furthermore, NC AuxComm, with the full support of NCEM, is tasked with forming at the county level, county AuxComm groups led by an appointed and qualified volunteer AuxComm Coordinator. The NC AuxComm program replaces the RACES and ARRL – ARES programs within the state.
An Amateur Radio Operator license is required for AuxComm membership as well as completing required initial and recurrent training as well as active participation in nets and exercises. To register to be member of Forsyth County AuxComm, complete an AuxComm Registration Form 100 listing contact information and band / mode capabilities. This form is available from the AuxComm Coordinator and the last page of this newsletter. There are no fees or dues; nor is club membership required.
All hams may participate by volunteering their time and the use of their radio equipment for AuxComm activities. Members of Forsyth County AuxComm are required to have completed at least the basic four ICS courses (IS-100, IS-200, IS-700 and IS-800) as well as the local E-Comm 101 course. Almost all of AuxComm activities use VHF / UHF FM, so hams with any class of license can participate.
Locally, Forsyth County AuxComm is supported by the Forsyth Amateur Radio Club which allows the use of the club’s repeaters and some of the club’s equipment for AuxComm activities. We thank them for their support.
Our primary emergency / disaster service partners are Winston – Salem / Forsyth Emergency Management, North Carolina Emergency Management and the American Red Cross. We participate in training exercises with these partners, and in communications emergencies are normally deployed to assist in their responses. Trained AuxComm members can be asked to assist in a variety of roles during emergencies, disasters and public service events from operating an amateur radio at shelters, command posts and the EOC to acting as shadows (radio operators) for key personnel and operating radios on the state VIPER system.
Forsyth County AuxComm’s main public service event is the annual, two-day Tour to Tanglewood Bike MS event. During this large scale, multi-county event, we provide primary communications throughout the route structure at rest / medical aid stops as well as providing radio equipped Support & Gear (SAG) vehicles. This event gathers over 900 riders and covers a 3 county area, raising over $850,000 for MS research in 2018. In 2019, Forsyth County AuxComm was awarded the MS Society’s Outstanding Group of the Year award.
WHAT HAPPENED TO ARES ?
ARES is the ARRL term for Amateur Radio Emergency Service program. Traditionally, this program provided amateur radio supplementary emergency communications support for served agencies. This program is still in use throughout many areas of the country. However, the ARES program is not a NIMS Compliant program in regards to ICS structure and processes. In North Carolina, State Emergency Management has mandated that all entities involved in emergency / disaster response be NIMS compliant as well as have ICS based training and certification processes. Therefore NCEM has adopted the AuxComm program as stated above to provide primary amateur radio Emergency Communications within the state. AuxComm is NIMS complaint and is the accepted Emergency Communications program for Amateur Radio within the state.