Training is the primary activity of CCAR. Although our purpose is to activate for communication emergencies and assist Chester County Department of Emergency Services, everything we do is considered "training" in preparation and maintenance of our skills and equipment. Our meetings and events all have training aspects that keep us sharp and ready. There are formal training events, courses and classes that lead to certifications. And since 9/11, the National Incident Management System (NIMS) requires deployed volunteers to have earned certain training certifications. In addition, to receive insurance coverage while responding on behalf of the County, we must also have proof of training for the tasks we undertake; that is, emergency radio communications.
Minimum Training Requirement
First, please understand that there is a place for all amateur radio operators committed to EmComm in CCAR, regardless of their training achievements. However, the mandates mentioned above lead to CCAR's minimum training requirement for field-deployed responders in a disaster or emergency incident. To participate in incident deployments, CCAR members must have on file with CCAR the following certificates of training:
- ARRL Amateur Radio Communications Course (ARECC), Level 1 (or equivalent)
- FEMA ICS-100 Introduction to the Incident Management System
- FEMA ICS-700 Introduction to the National Incident Management System (NIMS)
All the above courses may be completed online, on your own time, at your convenience. Obtaining the required formal training is generally easy and not too demanding.
- ARRL ARECC Level 1 course information is available here:
- FEMA courses are free and available online at the FEMA Emergency Management Institute:
In addition, CCAR may hold classroom review and exam sessions for these certifications from time-to-time. Watch the front page of this site for news of these events.
Optional (Highly Encouraged!) Training
- The ARRL also offers ARECC Level 2 (aimed at net and field operations) and Level 3 (for EmComm leaders and those who want to lead). Both are highly recommended, but not required by CCAR.
- Members who assume a leadership role in deployments or exercises must also have additional certifications as defined by NIMS. The courses are ICS-200, and ICS-800, also available free and online from the FEMA Emergency Management Institute.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute (EMI) offers more than fifty independent study courses. These are self-paced courses designed for people who have emergency management responsibilities and the general public. For most courses you will need to download and print the materials. Others are interactive courses that you can take directly over the internet. All are offered free-of-charge to those who qualify for enrollment. Each Independent Study Course includes lessons with practice exercises and a final examination. Students who score 75 percent or better are issued a certificate of achievement from EMI. Completion times vary from two to fourteen hours, depending on the course and the student’s background.
CCAR encourages additional study through these courses as your interest would suggest. The more you learn about Emergency Management, the more valuable you become to the CCAR team.
- In addition, we encourage members to obtain training and certifications for First-Aid, CPR and AED from a leading trainer like the American Red Cross.
- CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training is also encouraged, and is convenient because it includes CERT, First-Aid, CPR and AED certifications as a bundle.
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, like 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 incident when professional responders are not immediately available. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.
CCAR members who complete this course will receive a CERT kit, which includes a backpack, first aid kit, flashlight, and other tools and materials useful in an emergency. CERT training is offered several times each year by Chester County Department of Emergency Services with the American Red Cross. The current CERT training schedule is here. Register early!
- The National Weather Service Forecast Office at Mt. Holly, NJ conducts SKYWARN spotter training classes in our area. Additional information can be found at our SKYWARN page and at the NWS SKYWARN page. CCAR normally hosts a SKYWARN training session each year, but this training can be completed at any scheduled session. The current training schedule is published here:
CCAR members who complete SKYWARN training are eligible to receive a NOAA Weather Radio issued by the Chester County Department of Emergency Services. This is a valuable benefit to CCAR members. Also, depending upon location and an agreement with the County, these members have the opportunity to host Chester County-owned weather instruments on their property.
9-1-1 Backup Call-Taker Training
In the event of a significant communications disruption, CCDES has a plan to deploy CCAR members at local fire stations to receive and relay emergency messages to the Chester County 9-1-1 Call Center. This training, conducted by CCDES personnel, is 4 hours in length and focuses on how to effectively take and relay 9-1-1 messages. This training is required of members responding to this type of deployment.
Courses are offered generally twice each year. Watch the front page and the site calendar for registration opportunities.
Sending Your Certificates to CCAR
It is important to send copies of your certificates to CCAR in order to have them recorded under the responder's credential issued to CCAR members. This is part of a new smart ID/credential card that will be used beginning in 2009. Send by regular mail paper copies of all certificates you earn (also your advanced course certificates) to:
ATTN: Lor Kutchins W3QA, ARES/RACES
Chester County Department of Emergency Services
601 Westtown Road, Suite 12
West Chester, PA 19382
Members may view their recorded basic training achievements on this page.