Survey regarding

Proposed changes to RAC Ontario Section

ARES District Structure

 

 

REPORT FROM SECTION MANAGER ON PROPOSED RESTRUCTURING OF

ONTARIO ARES DISTRICTS TO ALIGN WITH EMO SECTORS

ATTN: ALL ONTARIO ARES MEMBERS:

Having taken over as Ontario Section Manager in October of 2005 I have seen many changes take place.  

I must admit I went into the position with blinders on not really knowing the complexities that each service has and the concerns raised by many of its members. I have taken on these challenges with full dedication and zest in solving many problems and concerns. I realize that many of the decisions I have made do not meet with full approval; however, the input and assistance that I have received and support from many RAC members has made these tasks easier than expected. This report deals with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service. 

As most of you know, the ARES in Ontario Section was not in great shape in September of 2005. Most of you attended a meeting at the Ontario Provincial Police Headquarters in Orillia Ontario. At that meeting many issues were discussed. We also received a very welcoming address by RAC President Earl Smith, VE6NM, advising of full RAC support for the ARES. It was very uplifting and gave a renewed pride and overall support for the ARES Ontario program. 

Many problems existed at that time. Ontario was without a Section Manager. A huge division was seen between the Toronto group and the rest of the province. Training was a concern and overall acceptance and recognition by professional organizations was a concern. Also a standard identifying type of identification, equipment and clothing were required. Plus the overall moral was low within the organization and recognition was one concern I heard addressed at this meeting. 

Since that meeting I saw no other volunteers step up to the plate and take on the position as Section Manager so, with some reluctance, I accepted the appointment.  

As most of you also do, I spend many hours volunteering my time for this position and working hard behind the scenes trying to improve the image of ARES. I was met with some opposition to some of the suggestions and tasks.  However many of you were very supportive and gave very valuable suggestions and recommendations that I took to heart and acted upon over the past year and a half.  

Today the ON Section ARES is much stronger thanks to most of you for the work you have been doing on a local front. The changes have been slow but as of today these changes are noticeable. I worked on behalf of you all and got TCA to include all of your ARES reports in the ARES Section News. So much so that Ontario has the largest Section news in all of Canada.  

The key word I kept hearing was recognition of ARES was needed.  With the assistance of VPFS Bob Cooke, VE3BDB, clothing and equipment are now available through RAC that makes us uniform and recognized at emergency situations. The Toronto issue was dealt with and I am happy to report that Toronto ARES District is very strong and a big supporter now of the provincial efforts. The ARES nets are now regular both on HF and on the VHF/UHF networks through the IRLP system, being one of the most popular nets in all of Ontario with over 30 check-ins on average. The last Simulated Emergency Test (October 2006) was the most active and best-supported Emergency exercise that ARES has seen in the history of SETs, with most areas of the province participating and having over 35 formal pieces of traffic being sent through the National Traffic System. ARES has come a long way and continues to progress thanks to all your efforts. 

One of the hardest tasks that I had to take on as Section Manager was trying to get ARES recognized as a vital emergency communications service by the Government of Ontario. Becoming recognized on a provincial level was not an easy task and one common complaint I have heard over and over was that there was never any money for ARES to expand and grow.  

In October 2006, the VPFS and I met with top officials at Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) and discussed the importance of the vital service ARES provides. I will admit it did help that both the VPFS was, and I am, Ontario Provincial Police Officers.  Being RAC officials we were very well received and accepted. From that meeting a newly formed strong relationship was drawn between EMO and ARES. With recent events around the world and changes with emergency management thinking, EMO is now the top agency in Ontario when dealing with emergency situations and millions of dollars have been spent on this organization, which affects ARES not only on a provincial level but local municipal level also through local field officers with EMO.  

Money is starting to flow and a new ARES VE3EMO station has been purchased with state of the art amateur equipment and expansion to computer modes, including Win link. The new Mobile Provincial Command Unit, which can be deployed to any area of the province, will be equipped with amateur equipment to be used by local ARES groups if the unit is needed in your area. The provincial Emergency Operations Centre, which has all professional organizations from Police, Fire, EMS, all ministry organizations, Hydro, DND, now includes the ARES, to follow suit as all other organizations at the table under a new provincial government initiative called RABA (Regional Area Boundary Alignment).  

This initiative will see all ministries' regional structures conform to the new sectors in RABA. This is being phased in to provincial operations, which will affect local municipalities in emergency operations. If ARES is to follow suit at a provincial level with all other professional organizations it is very important that we are on the same page in terms of geographic references. 

Seeing a need for ARES to move forward, I sent a proposal and statement to all ARES members in January 2007, about the proposed realignment changes and why this was important.

 I then followed it up with a survey in February 2007, to obtain your input and concerns. The survey form was posted on the RAC website, with references to this site sent out on the Yahoo user groups and the ARES Ontario web site along with the EMO/ARES website. The survey was closed on March 17, 2007. The following is a summary of the results of this survey. 

We have 74 registered ARES appointments in the province, from DEC, EC and AEC levels.  Of the 74 people who could respond 35 did so.  Thatís over half, which is more than any survey expects.  As a result of this survey the following are the findings. 

Out of 35 responses, 22 were in favour of the alignment with EMO, 7 were against and 6 had not preference either way. 

Some of the comments were reported as follow, for and against the proposed changes: 

These are a few of the comments.  Many of you did not respond with any comments other than being for or against or having no preference so it makes it hard to know what your feelings were. I have spoken to many of you over the telephone and have come to an agreement on the proposed changes.  

So, after taking all your e-mails, phone calls and surveys and using my judgment as Section Manager, I have come to the conclusion that for the best interest of the ARES to move forward, for the betterment of the program on whole, that ARES districts change to meet the new EMO sector and realign areas of the province to match that of EMO. 

Having made this decision I realize that transition will not be easy and there will be some confusion until areas have been arranged and an understanding of new names and sectors are done.  

This is why I am now asking all DECís to work with all ECís and make whatever changes are necessary to make this work in your area.  Many of you have already formulated a plan, which will require new appointments and positions. Both SEC Bob Gammon and I are prepared for this and have no problem with that. 

Appointments will be made shortly and a list will be completed with the new sector names and areas will be posted.  I ask for your patience as both the SEC and I will work on this over the next few weeks. 

I also realize that this might not meet with the acceptance of a few and for that all I ask is that you give this a chance and see how this will work. I trust you will give me your support in moving ARES ahead in Ontario and making this organization one of the strongest and most respected Emergency Communications Organizations in all of Canada. 

I pledge my commitment to you all in working hard to make this happen and hopefully the previous accomplishments within ARES have shown this. 

On behalf of RAC Section management I thank each of you for your continued commitment and hard work to the program.  Your efforts are recognized and appreciated. 

73,

 

Al

 

Allan Boyd

VE3AJB

Ontario Section Manager

 

RAC Field Organization