Working together CERT & ARES
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community
For more information on CERT in Harris County please follow this link. Harris County Citizen Corps
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible for membership in the ARES. The only qualification, other than possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve. Because ARES is an amateur service, only amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.
Typially many CERT teams are using inexpenisve "blister pack" radios which are found in just about every retail store in the country. These radios use the "Family Radio Service (FRS)" frequencies and some of them also include the "General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)" frequencies. These radios provide many CERT teams the ability to communicate over short distances very effectively. However because of the low power restrictions on these radios limit them from being able to communicate over any distance greater than a mile or two.
Now, where CERT and ARES come together. Amateur radio extends the communications capabilities of the CERT teams by providing them an additional means to communicate with local, county, state and even federal officals using the standard procedures already in place on the Amateur Radio Service (Ham) bands. Not every CERT team member needs to be a ham, but having a few hams on every CERT team gives them the ability to stretch their communication capabilities far outside their local neighborhoods. The local CERT teams can still utilize the FRS/GMRS radios for their intra-team communications but when additional resourses outside their capabilities arise amateur radio can be used to contact the appropriate response agency.