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Frequently Asked Questions
Information for Prospective Members
Thank you for your interest in membership with OMEGA. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer response group based out of the Denver metropolitan area, available for deployment by our served agencies and to other organizations based on MAA and MOU agreements. This document is designed to give the prospective member a better understanding of our organization and function, rules and regulations. The descriptions in this document may not be fully inclusive. We encourage questions to be asked. We welcome new members into our group.
The mission of OMEGA is to organize and train a core group of interested community volunteers to save lives and preserve infrastructure.
What We Do
What we do is not Hollywood. There is no glory in being a first responder. The training is hard, the conditions can be merciless and in the end no one may know that we were the team that made the difference. To us that's a successful mission. Our objective is to save lives and preserve infrastructure and if we succeeded, then nothing failed and no attention was drawn to a potential disaster.
Who We Are
OMEGA is a multi-disciplinary response team. No one member is an expert in all aspects of emergency response, but each member is fully qualified in at least one area. We strongly support cross-training for our members to improve our ability to respond in times of need.
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit group operating under the authority of the governmental member agencies of the Colorado North Central All-Hazards Emergency Management Region (NCR). Our primary area of operation consists of the ten Denver metropolitan counties that make up NCR, but we are available for deployment anywhere in Colorado and, when needed, we have deployed and assisted outside the state.
Our Service Policies
OMEGA resources are available to any law enforcement, fire and other emergency response entities 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are available in all kinds of terrain and weather in the event of an emergency. We will not self-deploy. Deployment is upon an authorized request only.
We do not charge for our services. We do not get paid for our services. All of our members are strictly volunteers, donating their time and providing their own equipment.
At a minimum we encourage all of our members to be fully trained in the basics of search and rescue, hold an FCC amateur radio license and to be ICS and NIMS compliant. Our members are capable of providing emergency communications, urban, rural and wilderness search and rescue, waterborne and SCUBA operations, vertical work, basic life support/disaster medical operations, shelter management and other aspects of emergency response.
Crosstraining in multiple response areas is encouraged for all our members and a variety of training is made available on a regular basis either directly through our staff or through co-aligned agencies.
While we have no age restrictions for membership, minors may not join without an adult guardian. All minors must meet the same training criteria and knowledge requirements as adult members of the organization. It must be stressed that we will not allow deployment of minors into dangerous environments.
We desire all of our members to be in good health and be physically fit, but many of our deployments do not require specific physical capabilities. We will not discriminate against health and physical limitations and will attempt to match our members to our missions to the best of our ability. It is important to stress that some deployments do carry specific physical requirements and restrictions and staffing for these missions will be done based on skill set and physical capabilities. Members are allowed to reject assignments they do not feel qualified to perform.
We require all prospective members to certify in at least one discipline of emergency response after joining OMEGA. We will provide training opportunities for continuing growth and additional certification to our members. We encourage our members to crosstrain in multiple disciplines of emergency response.
We require all our members to be current on their CPR and first aid training. We offer this training to our members at cost on a regular basis.
All our members are also required to be ICS qualified to meet the deplyment criteria set forth by both FEMA and our served agencies.
We desire our members to be residents of the Denver, CO metropolitan area, but exceptions to this are possible based on a decision of the board of directors.
Background Checks/Criminal History
We do not run active background checks on our members, but our served agencies reserve the right to perform background checks as needed during or prior to deployments. All members are required to file a signed affidavit allowing our served agencies to perform background checks. Membership and deployment eligibility may be based on prior criminal history. Due to the nature of our mission, we are unable to accept members with a prior felony conviction.
We realize that as volunteers our members have to work for a living. Work schedules, family time and vacations do cut into individual ability to deploy. In spite of this, we have had to deploy in the middle of the night, on holidays and almost always in bad weather. It is desirable for our applicants to have the flexibility to be available for deployment when emergencies occur. It is not a requirement for everyone to make every deployment, but members who can never deploy will fall off our roster.
We expect that all members attend at least one training per quarter and that all members participate in at least one of OMEGA's committees or sections. Exercises, lectures and actual deployments will qualify as training credit.
All of our members provide their own gear and equipment and are expected to have appropriate equipment ready and available for missions they are qualified to undertake. We expect all of our members to maintain discipline appropriate go-kits that will make them self-sufficient for a 24 to 48 hour deployment.
We are not a law enforcement agency. We realize that many individuals have concealed carry permits, but for the purpose of our missions, our members may not carry weapons while representing OMEGA unless they are active members of a city, county, state or federal law enforcement agency. Violation of this regulation is grounds for immediate termination of membership.
Teamwork is critical to our ability to successfully complete a mission. Hot-dogging is not allowed. Breaking protocol is frowned upon. We realize that no mission goes strictly by the book, but for team safety and success we require cohesive teamwork and the ability to follow the instructions given by the incident commander or mission coordinator. We will dismiss members for breaking rules and for not placing safety first.
Prospective members will need to meet with our membership board. This is a two way interview, for us to understand the prospective member's skills and desires and for the prospective member to understand what we do and how we do it. The ability to establish this initial rapport is critical to being a cohesive team in the future. All applicants will not fit our needs and our organization will not fit the goals of all applicants.
We require all of our members to fill out a capabilities checklist and maintain it on an annual basis. This is one of the most important documents we have as it helps us manage our talent as well as assign and field a team based on capabilities of the individuals who will perform the requested tasks. Completion of the capabilities checklist does not imply automatic granting of membership.
Flow of the new member application process:
Responding to emergency situations is an inherently dangerous activity. While we value member safety above all else and will do everything in our power to assure that our members are not placed in harm's way, we have no guarantees that disaster will not strike one of our own. Our members volunteer for duty with the understanding that they are exposing themselves to potential harm and all are required to sign a waiver indicating that they are accepting this risk voluntarily and that they and/or their estate will not hold OMEGA, its members, representatives, affiliates or served agencies liable for potential damages or losses. Waivers must be renewed annually along with the capabilities checklist and are good for the calendar year in which they were completed.
We do not self-deploy. Our participation must be requested by an authorized agency such as an OEM, law enforcement, fire, EMS or another SAR already responding to a call-out. We will not monitor news or emergency frequencies and respond to incidents we hear about. Passive self deployment is acceptable if a member is a witness to an incident. ICS procedures must be followed at all times and command should be transferred to a jurisdictional agency as soon as reasonably possible.
If a mission is presented to us, we will attempt to notify all of our members as quickly as possible. Training and planned support events will have plenty of warning. Emergency deployments may come at any time and require immediate response. Our mission coordinator will notify members believed to be best qualified to support an event and work down a list, attempting to gather the team required to conduct the mission. Members who repeatedly refuse deployments will find themselves sinking to the bottom of the callout list and may end up on the reserve roster or taken off it all together.
As mentioned previously, our missions are never sexy. There is no Hollywood glamour in what we do. You may be required to work in adverse conditions, in hostile weather, in unpleasant environments. Requirements may exist to perform menial or distasteful tasks as a part of our agreement with our served agencies. No matter how tedious, boring or repulsive the tasks may be, they are a part of our job and must be performed in spite of (or due to) our qualifications. Deployed resources are always required to follow ICS procedures.
At one time or another all of us have an axe to grind. Our policy is to never take our complaints to our served agencies, especially during a deployment. All issues will be addressed in the hotwash and in the after action report.
Of paramount concern is safety. Each member's responsibility, in order, is to (1) assure personal safety, (2) watch out for your team's safety, (3) take care of your victims, patients and bystanders and (4) complete the mission. Why is this the case? If a responder becomes a victim, the integrity of the mission is compromised. Our mission fails automatically if we have to set our predefined objectives aside to care for one of our own. Disregard for safety will not be tolerated.
Privacy and the Media
Our served agencies expect a certain level of sensitivity to the nature of our assignments. As a rule of thumb, no information passed to us, intentionally or unintentionally, by our served agencies or partner agencies is to be disclosed to or allowed to be overheard by any outside entity. We are also subject to privacy regulations. We are not allowed to disclose personal information related to any individuals involved in our deployments either as victims, bystanders or staff. Each mission will have a public information officer, either as a resource from OMEGA or as a staff member of our served agency. All mission related questions must be referred to this individual. It is our responsibility to make sure that no reporters or tourists are on scene without the direct knowledge of the PIO.
All missions and deployments require a follow-up. For training and support events we require an after action report to be filed by the incident commander. If we are a supporting agency in the incident, our mission coordinator must provide our input to the lead agency for their after action review.
For large scale events we will hold a hotwash which will be used to generate an after action report. For non-training deployments we will participate in the served agency's hotwash and provide an after action report.
For incidents that involved working with injuries, witnessing a death or exposure to mass destruction we will require members who participated in the mission to attend a critical incident stress debriefing with the served agency to make sure all outstanding issues have been addressed. Post traumatic stress is very real in some of our deployments and our goal is to prevent potential stress related issues. If deemed needed, the stress debriefing is mandatory for all mission participants.
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