February 4, 2016
The ARRL and the American Red Cross have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The document, signed in January, succeeds one agreed to in 2010; it will remain in place for the next 5 years. The MoU spells out how League Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers will interface with the Red Cross in the event that ARES teams are asked by the Red Cross to assist in a disaster or emergency response.
“Whenever there is a disaster requiring the use of Amateur Radio communications resources and/or facilities, the local Red Cross region or chapter may request the assistance of the local ARES organization responsible for the jurisdiction of the scene of the disaster,” the MoU provides. Such assistance would include mobilization of ARES personnel in accordance with a prearranged plan, and the establishment of communication as necessary during a disaster or emergency. “Both ARRL volunteers and American Red Cross workers will work cooperatively at the scene of a disaster and in the disaster recovery, within the scope of their respective roles and duties” within the scope of the MoU, the agreement says.
Generally, the MoU sets the parameters of the partnership between the ARRL and the Red Cross to provide assistance to communities affected by disasters. It calls upon both organizations to encourage and maintain open lines of communication at the state and local levels, sharing current data regarding disasters, situational and operational reports, changes in policy or personnel, and any information pertaining to disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
For its part, the League will encourage ARES units to engage in discussions with local Red Cross entities to develop plans for local response or disaster relief operations. The Red Cross will encourage its field units to engage in discussions with the ARRL Field Organization to develop plans for local response or disaster relief.
Facilitating this is a Statement of Cooperation to provide methods of cooperation between the two organizations on the local level in providing services to communities during or after a disaster event, “as well as other services for which cooperation may be mutually beneficial.” The ARRL signatory is either the appropriate ARRL Section Manager or Section Emergency Coordinator.
The new MoU also clarifies that ARES volunteers assisting the Red Cross but not registered as Red Cross volunteers do not have to undergo a prior background check. Radio amateurs who register as Red Cross volunteers, though, must abide by the Red Cross’s background check requirement.
Then-ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, signed the MoU on behalf of the League on January 7, while ARC Senior Vice President-Disaster Cycle Services Richard Reed, signed for the American Red Cross on January 22.