Last summer I got a note from one of the Nevada ARES districts where they were very proud of having gotten to 25% participation on one of their weekly nets. At first glance that seems a bit low. Only one person out of every four members participated in a given net. But then again, how do we do?
As many of you know, I have been listening to or participating in many of the East Slope district nets (obviously only those that I can hear - which is the nine districts from D-10 on the North to D-14 on the South). While I do not have membership counts for very many of those districts, several are getting in the five to six percent participation. Compare that to the Nevada twenty five percent.
Our nets are designed to be an excellent source of information about each district, their activities, and any pending changes. They also give us an excellent opportunity for training (some a bit better than others). Can you find the time to participate in at least one out of every four of your nets? On average, that works out to less than thirty minutes per month. Think about that. If we can get everyone to check into just one out of every four of their own nets, that would be a twenty five percent participation - per net, over all.
Many people complain that "times are tough". Yes they are. Does anyone actually remember any times in the last twenty five years that were not? With twenty twenty hind sight we can see that several of those times were not as tough, but as we moved through them they were just as tough as now. During the ramp up for Y2K many people made time for training and practice because the potential for disaster was perceived to be so great. After 9/11/01 who says today's threat is any less? Who can say the the "bread box" building in down town Denver will not be the next target? We all hope not, but none can say.
Net participation and traffic handling, unlike riding a bicycle, where once you learn you don't forget - require regular participation to maintain proficiency. To those of you that participate regularly - thank you, thank you, thank you. That level of commitment makes it much easier to field a group of well trained people during times of need. To the others, can you find thirty minutes per month? Remember, this is part of what you volunteered to do. Regular training is what keeps you a valuable resource for ARES!
There are three primary reasons that I have heard for not participating in ARES nets. First is previous commitments - such as church on Sunday, etc. Second is diminishing interest and third is lack of substance in the nets. The last two seem to be problems that we can correct by enhancing the nets. What suggestions do YOU have for improving the nets? How can we make them more interesting. What substance can we add that would increase interest and thus participation? If you send your ideas to me here I will post them on this page. Each district can extract those ideas that will work for them and we all can get some ideas. Even if your idea is not used by any given district, it may spark a related idea that would work for them.