TO: ALL WEST VIRGINIA ARES MEMBERS (OFFICIAL)
ALL ARES AND NON-ARES AMATEURS ANYWHERE (INFORMATION)
FROM: KEN HARRIS WA8LLM WV SECTION EMERGENCY COORDINATOR
WOOD COUNTY EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS INCORPORATED
WV ARES® BULLETIN NR 10.35 DATE: August 29, 2010
SUBJECT: DO YOUR CUSTOMERS KNOW YOU?
The first thing you have to do is define the word customers. As volunteer radio operators, or communicators, you'll ask, if we're not in the business of selling something, how can we have customers? Well... the dictionary says that a customer is: one who purchases goods from another; a buyer; or a patron. Take the word patron; one meaning in the dictionary defines the patron as: one who uses the services of others.
If that's the case, when you provide communication services to another group or agency, they are your customers, even though there is nothing exchanged. As volunteer communicators, you can, and often, do make real contributions in emergency and disaster situations, if the groups or agencies you work for are aware of your capabilities.
If a communications organization is known only by a limited group, most likely the usefulness of the organization may well be lost. Your communications group should try to serve all branches of government involved in emergency services, not just a dedicated few. If any or all of these agencies are unaware of your communications abilities and facilities, they obviously are not going to use them.
Even if an agency is aware of your organization, it is unlikely to utilize it if confidence in its reliability has not been established in advance. Establishing awareness of, and confidence in, your communication organization is not necessarily an easy task. After all, the agencies we deal with are often highly trained professionals, unused to working with, and trusting "amateurs".
Exercising together is probably the most effective method of creating the required level of trust. Regular contact between all the agencies that may need your communication services in an emergency is vital between exercises. Since your group may be "the new kid on the block", the potential for these contacts will likely come from the group itself.
In short, training and becoming an effective communications unit is only part of the job. The rest involves a selling job.
Ken Harris WA8LLM
Wood County WV
WV ARES® Section Emergency Coordinator
WV ARES® District 3 Emergency Coordinator