Our Own Worst Enemy

The Ham Guy is our own worst enemy! I am one of them!

Who can think on their feet, pull out a radio and communicate – we can. That’s the easy part. We, in varied degrees, can tinker together “systems” that blows others minds. So when “they” want something done, they come to us. Sounds familiar with the small town public service events? Yeah, we have been the “good guys” forever.

There are still a lot of the “let’s use simplex (or the town repeater) and we’ll wing it events. We may even put a few notes in an email to each other and we show up with coffee and radio in hand. I actually love these events!

As events grow in size they become corporations in thinking and mentality. How often haven’t you heard “I can remember when” and the story goes on when it was a true grassroots event. “Now they…” and here comes the description of how ham has been sidelined and xyz has taken over.

Maybe we have to change and grow with the events. Maybe the hip-shooter techie guys needs to be replaced with the “corporate” comm-planner. We certainly know enough about the theory of ICS, and we are probably even “certified”, but our Customer, the event organizer, is not an ICS compliant group. You want to be the Comm Leader, now is the time to shine. Put on your 3-way had – Corporate, ICS, Volunteer. This is not easy;

You have to convince the corporate/business minded organizer that you plan the same way (s)he organizes. Let’s face it, the event has a budget, a plan with objectives and a need to succeed or they go broke. Worse yet, they end with a liability due to lack of operational control and thus negligence.

We have to approach the event the same way. If you have more than a dozen hams in the event you have to become corporate. The coffee in hand fun event is long gone. Now it is business.

So how do you get from here to there?

  1. Skip the “My Event” and think “Our Event” – Create Ownership and Pride.
  2. Have planning sessions – in-person or conference.
  3. Create and org-chart just like a business. Divide the event into logical segments.
  4. Recruit individuals in key positions to make it succeed.
  5. Give objectives and collaborate.
  6. Don’t treat the volunteer as a servant on a need to know basis. They represent you and the event.
  7. Formalize by documenting. Here are some paragraph headers for EACH location. Generalities shows lack of preparedness or that YOU don’t really understand the event:
    1. What/Why are we communicating from this location? To Whom? What is so important right here that I should volunteer my time?
    2. What is manpower requirement for the station?
    3. What is the technical requirements for the station?
    4. Describe the station and what a “walk in” volunteer can expect.
    5. Let them know the volunteer logistics (clothing, parking, food etc.)
  8. Ham-Nets are great on HF. Consider a semi-formal tactical net. How many times haven’t you heard the longwinded ham taking 2 minutes to say 20 seconds worth of information. Consider requiring Time Out Timers at 60 seconds.
    1. Admin channel to keep accountability/welfare of your staff.
    2. Task Channels selectable on a need basis for temporary messaging (e.g.: Med-Net, PA, Supplies, Parking etc.)
    3. Frequency and PL Tone assignment. Don’t do play-do, have a fixed plan.
  9. Have the Ham Play Book with you during meetings with the event committee. It show you are in control and gives confidence. Don’t just sit there with ideas and a blank note-pad.

Remember – to them, this is a business, only to you it is a hobby.

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