Today marks the day I took the final for ARRL’s EC-001: Emergency Communications Basic/Level 1 course.

It’s a 9 week course that I started in November and covers a wide range of EMCOMM topics: From the organizational structure of emergency communicator groups to traffic net etiquette to digital modes to message handling to deployment preparation and expectations.

It is designed for those who want to volunteer in ARES or another emergency communications group.

ARRL EC-001 Intro to EMCOMM Course

The 9 week course is comprised of 29 lessons, with an estimate of taking 45 hours to complete. Along the way, there are assignments/activities for each lesson, and frequent check-ins with a designated mentor of the class.

The mentor for this class was Linda Mullen AD4BL, who lives in Alaska. She served in the Northern Florida and Alaska ARRL Sections. She is presently the DEC for the North Star Borough – Fairbanks AK District and the SEC of Alaska.

Throughout the course, Linda shared applicable experience and insights into the lessons and problems presented. We also got into side discussions about various technical and organizational obstacles I was encountering. It is always great to have a helpful Elmer just an email away.

Overall, I found the course to be both laborious and motivating. Laborious in that there were a lot of topics relating to protocols and structure that are necessary but tedious. Motivating in that it gave me that little extra context and pointer to seek out more info in various areas I had always wondered about: My own ARES and ARRL sections, digital modes, alternative modes, and the best uses of all of them.

People have asked me, “Why do you want to do this?” Implied in that line of questioning was that it’s a lot of work for something that doesn’t immediately benefit me. But I’m a planner. I want to be prepared. And most of all, I don’t want to be helpless and aimless whenever the next emergency hits. EMCOMM infrastructure is there, and instead of just waiting for someone else to answer my calls of help, I want to be ready and capable to facilitate those calls for help, and even be part of getting them resolved.

If disaster preparedness appeals at all to you, and you have a knack for communications, I highly recommend checking out ARRL’s EC-001 online course.

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