AREN, Frequently Asked Questions

What is AREN?

AREN stands for Amateur Radio Emergency Network. It consists of a group of licensed radio amateurs and experimenters who voluntarily make their equipment and time available to the community, nationally, internationally and in their local area, to assist professional and community groups by passing third party radio traffic on their behalf in emergency situations.

What are the primary functions of AREN?

The primary reason for the existence of the group is to assist professional organisations at times of emergency. Other functions, which provide training opportunities for members, are to assist at community events such as hill walks and road races.

What is the relationship between AREN and the IRTS?

The EmerComms group exists under the umbrella of the Irish Radio Transmitters Society however it is not necessary to be an IRTS member in order to become a member of AREN.

Are there special license arrangements in place for AREN activities?

ComReg has issued a series of callsigns that may be allocated by the AREN coordinator. Otherwise, individuals, who function as an organised AREN group under the terms of their ordinary experimenters license, undertake all activities and no special arrangements exist.

Are there difficulties in liasing and working with the professional groups?

To date the EmerComms group is aware of only one instance of a direct link between AREN and a professional emergency organisation, although this is rapidly changing. The group has not forged links to date with professionals in other areas due to two stumbling blocks; one, the difficulty in obtaining adequate insurance cover and two, a perceived resistance to change by some members of those organisations. These are difficulties that evaporate during times of emergency and therefore do not prevent the group from engaging in training in order to be ready to assist at these times.

In what way can AREN help the professional services?

There are any number of ways in which a voluntary radio communications group can be of assistance among which are; relieving professionals who have been on duty for long periods, provision of long to medium range communications which some professionals don’t have access to and the provision of interagency communications which in some cases do not exist.

Do the words Amateur or Experimenter appear on group branding?

While both are words of which we as members of a hobby group are justifiably proud, it is alarming for people who are victims in emergency situations to see people described in these terms. Therefore these words are not used.

Does AREN receive Government Support?

The group consists of licensed individuals who make their time and equipment available on a voluntary basis. The possibility of raising funds for the purchase of commonly held equipment is being examined and this funding is unlikely to come from Government.

Do members get paid?

The experimenter’s license precludes engaging in commercial activity and any individual or group who receive financial reward based on their activities as radio experimenters may lose their licenses.

What equipment is available to AREN?

Members use their own equipment, which must be unmodified and maintained in good and fully functioning condition. The group is currently assembling equipment that will be held communally including high visibility clothing and a portable repeater.

Does AREN have a role outside of Emergency Communications?

Community based activities such as the Women’s Mini Marathon, The Galtee Walk and the Lug Walk provide active training opportunities for groups who exist to either solely become involved in these events or who also make themselves available through AREN for emergency communications. The group also has a developing role in promoting the hobby, and proposed involvement with activities such as lighthouse open day will help to; a) bring members into contact with professionals who have role in accident prevention, b) allow them to operate from difficult locations, c) make them visible to a section of the public who visit lighthouses and who may as a consequence also be interested in becoming involved in amateur radio.

Are there any other groups in Ireland other than AREN who provide this service?

Raynet Ireland is a club member of IRTS and shares some members with AREN in and close to border areas.

I want to become a member of AREN how much time will I need to dedicate to activities?

As a primary commitment you will need to take the time to ensure that you have a fully functioning station that is capable of operating on either or all of the VHF, UHF and HF allocations. You will need to take time in the first instance to read the members manual. The second level of commitment will involve taking part in training courses and activities that are designed to develop your skills in order to become a useful member of an emergency communications organisation. In other words it takes very little time to become involve and thereafter you spend as much or as little time on EmerComms activities as you want to make available.

How do I join the AREN group?

By contacting any member of the AREN committee via telephone, e-mail, or in writing. Please see the contact page.

Are AREN activities covered by Insurance?

Currently all operations undertaken by the AREN group are required to be covered by insurances made available by the groups that are being assisted.

Does AREN play a role in international Voluntary Emergency Communications?

AREN forms part of IARU region one Voluntary Emergency Communication activities. The group will strive at all times to develop and maintain friendly working relationships with similar groups in other jurisdictions in order to a) promote international friendship and understanding, one of the stated aims of the hobby and b) to provide a seamless service to the public in times of emergency where cooperation between international voluntary EmerComms groups and professional organisations can help to preserve the lives and welfare of peoples.

Is there a training programme in place for members?

The member’s manual provides some information that is used by members in order to self-train. A comprehensive on-air, interactive, training programme is being developed and this will lead to accredited levels of progress through the organisation.

What geographical area is covered by the current membership?

The current membership of the group is available to respond throughout the country and it’s membership is distributed throughout Limerick, Galway, Leitrim, Waterford, Mayo, Donegal, Kerry, Tipperary and Cork. Club groups exist locally in the country that can bring valuable experience and membership strength to the national AREN. An ongoing invitation is open to those organisations to join the organisation in order that all those who are interested may be in the best possible position to provide an integrated service to the community.

Can I set up a local group in order to provide radio communication for my local community festival?

Yes, and you are most welcome to avail of the services of the Coordinating panel to travel to meet with your group in order to advise and help you in your endeavours to do so. Enquires should be directed in the first instance AREN committee via telephone, e-mail, or in writing. Please see the contact page.

With regard to your particular community event, you can operate only within the terms of you license and the group must satisfy itself that it is being run purely on a voluntary basis, that it cannot afford to pay for the service and that a net benefit will accrue to the community by virtue of the fact that the EmerComms group is involved.