Frequently Asked Questions About AUXCOMM

Here’s a list of questions commonly asked about AUXCOMM. Feel free to contact us if you do not see your question answered here.

What is AUXCOMM?

Auxiliary Communications (AUXCOMM) is an all-inclusive term used to describe the many organizations that provide various types of communications support to emergency management, public safety, and other government agencies or describes the services themselves.

It is an umbrella program for preparing volunteers to serve as Auxiliary Communicators (AUXC) within an incident command structure (ICS).

What’s the purpose of AUXCOMM?

The model of AUXCOMM is designed to provide auxiliary support to existing systems, emergency management programs, and public safety agencies.

How do I join AUXCOMM?

AUXCOMM isn’t an organization. If you are interested in becoming a recognized Auxiliary Communicator (AUXC), there are training requirements:

In addition, you need:

  • an amateur radio license (general class or above if you are going to apply for state recognition)
  • the support of your emergency manager (EM) to proceed with your task book (your EM also signs your task book at completion)

What does it mean to be state recognized?

When you become state recognized, you are registered in the state’s database of personnel who are trained in various positions. As a state-recognized AUXC, you are capable of being deployed anywhere in the state. You are also eligible to evaluate trainees as they work through their AUXC task books.

Do I have to deploy?

The first rule when considering a deployment is to determine whether you and your family are ready for you to be away for a period of time. If not, then you should decline the opportunity. In short, you are not required to deploy.

I have a medical condition that will prevent me from being able to deploy in certain environments. Does this mean I can’t be an AUXC?

Not at all! When you are notified to deploy, review the environment into which you will be deploying to ensure that you will be physically able to do so. If you don’t think that you can, you can decline to deploy to the incident. If you’re able to deploy remotely, e.g., from home, indicate that as well.

What if I’m not ever able to deploy…can I still be state recognized?

Yes. There are two categories of AUXC:

  • Category 1 AUXCs are able to deploy to an incident
  • Category 2 AUXCs are not able to deploy, but can provide assistance remotely

When you initiate your task book, you indicate at the top of the initiation page which category you are working on.

If I join AUXCOMM, do I need to leave my current organization?

AUXCOMM is not an organization; it’s an operating discipline and development program for AUXCs. Like any ICS position, the AUXC leaves their current organization and position behind while they are deployed as an AUXC.

Why is AUXCOMM taking over ARES/RACES?

AUXCOMM doesn’t replace any existing organization. ARES provides an intact field organization structure, that rosters volunteers. ARES groups also support their local community through public service, while AUXCOMM draws on the skills of those volunteers to support public safety.

I thought amateur radio was a hobby. Isn’t this a lot of work?

Just as ARES provides an opportunity for amateur radio hobbyists to give time to their community while utilizing their radio communication skills, AUXCOMM provides a similar set of opportunities. It does take more training and effort to prepare for it, and the satisfaction and insight gained from being able to work with and support public safety is very rewarding.

How often do I need to take the AUXCOMM class?

Normally, you only need to take the AUXCOMM course once. If you want to initiate your position task book and fail to do so within six months of completing the course, you will need to retake the class. Similarly, if you do not complete the task book within two years of initiating it, you will need to retake the class before initiating a new task book.

Can I just work on the task book?

The task book cannot be started until the trainee has completed the AUXCOMM course and obtained approval from their emergency manager to initiate the task book.

Do I have to do the task book?

The task book is not required. However, completing the task book—including agency verification by your emergency manager—documents your possession of the basic skills needed to fill the AUXC position. Obtaining state recognition will result in your becoming available for deployment throughout the state.

How often do I need to complete a task book?

If you are state recognized, you need to renew your recognition every three years. Renewal activities include training, attending conferences, and most notably by deploying for incidents and exercises as an AUXC. You’re encouraged to continue to have your tasks evaluated periodically as a means to document your progress toward renewal.