Have you ever wondered what if ARES ceased to function as it has? Have you ever wondered how thing would work if there was never training? Have you ever wondered what you would do, if you tried to get through in an emergency and no one could hear you? Have you ever wondered how you would feel if one of your family members died of an injury, because you hadn't tested your portable antenna and had no other means of communication, and it didn't work? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the EC of your group, know that there were people whose skills needed help, offer that help, only to have them respond "we'll be fine, we always get it done in the emergencies"? Have you ever wondered how well your favorite football team would do if they only practiced their skills as much as you practice your Emergency Operating skills?
Life is full of choices and opportunities. We have the choices as to what we place as important to us. Setting priorities is something we do everyday, consciously or unconsciously. Where we live, what kind of house we live in, who lives with us. How important those people are to us can be determined in many cases in how we spend our time. Do we just exist, or do we truly live? Planning ahead and making sure we take appropriate precautions to protect ourselves and those we care about is certainly one way we demonstrate this. An example of one choice we might make is when we decide to buy a house, would you make a choice to buy one built on solid rock, or would you prefer one built on sand from a river bottom? Would you prefer to plan ahead and have food in your shelves at home or have to scramble, every time you decided you wanted to eat something? Would you rather know what you need to know and be comfortable with it, or would you rather always be scrambling to catch up?
Ham Radio as we all know is a hobby. It's a hobby which has many uses, one of which is emergency communications. Even though it is but one facet of life, it can be important to us, our families and our communities. If you were on the receiving end of services provided by a group such as ARES, would you think you were being served by the brightest and the best if you encountered someone with less than proficient skills? Would you trust your family's well being and care to insure their needs were being cared for with someone who had less than practiced skills? I am guessing not. I am betting that you want the very best trained, very best equipped, and very highest level of proficiency person watching out for them and you!
Whether you are an old hand, who has "been there, done that:" or the newest ham in the hobby, I am sure if you are honest with yourself and those around, you might admit that you can still learn from training. Have you ever wondered what your ARES group would function like if you were the best trained and equipped ham in the group (as you stand right now)? Have you ever wondered what level the group would function at? Have you ever wondered how much more you might be able to offer if you had better training or skills? Have you ever wondered how much better things might function if people in your group practiced more together? Became more familiar with their equipment and equipment that is available out there? Have you ever wondered how your not participating in nets, exercises or training might influence someone else's participation? Have you ever wondered who some people use as an example for what they will do? Are you being the best example you can be? Have you ever wondered what ham radio or ARES in general would be like if there were no good examples?
We all have a responsibility to make good decisions. Making good decisions affect us directly, our families, friends and communities. We can choose to do everything half hearted and "get it done". On the other hand, we can choose to be the best at what we do. Take some pride in how we conduct ourselves as individuals and as a team. We can choose to show ourselves, our families and our communities that we are the best at what we do, even though the only compensation is the feeling of being proud of our accomplishments in helping others.
Where do you stand? Is your training the best it can be? Is your equipment always at its peak in terms of preparedness for an emergency? Do you have better ways to teach something that might benefit others in ARES? How involved and committed are you to being the best we can be? No one but you can answer any of these questions, but certainly as sure as you made the choices you have made, you know the answers. What will you do from here? Think about it and let your conscience dictate to you what kind of operator you will become.