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Red Cross and ARES Sign Cooperative Agreement

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After working together for more than 70 years to help victims of disaster in eastern New York State, local units of the American Red Cross and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) have signed a Statement of Understanding renewing their partnership for another five years. The SOU provides guidelines for the two organizations to cooperate for purposes of disaster planning and response.

The agreement was announced this week by Gary Striar, CEO of the American Red Cross Northeastern New York Region, and Pete Cecere, Section Manager of the Eastern New York Section of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the national association for Amateur Radio.

“We often find that having adequate communications coverage during a disaster can be challenging,” said Striar. “This agreement with ARES will really strengthen the Red Cross’ ability to communicate well with our operations volunteers and our partners during a disaster response.”

John Cummings, Board Member for the American Red Cross of the Mid-Hudson Valley was instrumental in the renewal of this partnership. Cummings has been an ARES member for the past 15 years and said that it's very common to have these kinds of partnerships in the Southeast region of the United States, where natural disasters tend to be more frequent and more damaging.

Under the new agreement, the Red Cross will incorporate ARES in its response plans, exercises, and drills, and provide training opportunities and facilities to ARES members. ARES will provide communications personnel and equipment in support of Red Cross disaster relief operations, and consult on operation and support of Red Cross communication systems. Members of both organizations will also share ideas and resources to expand the available pool of multi-skilled volunteers.

“ARES volunteers are communications experts, and our role is to support the operational structure of agencies like the Red Cross,” said Cecere. “The planning and training provided under this agreement will spell out what they need from us and help us be ready to respond quickly and effectively whenever the need arises. I’m very grateful to Dave Galletly, our Section Emergency Coordinator, for a great accomplishment here.”

This cooperative partnership will impact the following counties within the American Red Cross Northeastern New York Region: Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Ulster, Warren and Washington.

Since its founding in 1881 by visionary leader Clara Barton, the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) has been the nation's premier emergency response organization. As part of a worldwide movement that offers neutral humanitarian care to the victims of war, the American Red Cross distinguishes itself by also aiding victims of devastating natural disasters.

The American Radio Relay League (www.arrl.org) has been the national membership association for Amateur Radio operators since 1914. The League is organized for the establishment of networks to provide communications in the event of disasters or other emergencies, the advancement of the radio art and of the public welfare, the fostering of education, the promotion and conduct of research and development, and the dissemination of technical, educational and scientific information.