A Jump Bag Checklist

A jump bag is a bag or box of stuff you need to bring with you on an emergency response. It is a good idea to plan what should go in your jump bag well in advance, and to make notes each drill or response of what items were missing or were not necessary.

Types of Jump Bags

A main concern of a jump bag is convenience. You don't want a bag that is so heavy that it is impossible to lug with you. You might want to consider dividing your jump bag into several bags:
  1. Items to carry on your person at all times.
  2. Items to carry in vehicles other than your own.
  3. Items to carry in the trunk of your car.

A useful technique when developing your own jump bag inventory is to make column headings such as:
2m HTX
HT lighter adapterX
100' extension cordX
This way, you have a convenient inventory of all the items for your jump bag and can move them from one list to the other simply by changing the checkmarks. Items you tend to think about at the same time are grouped together, even though they may belong in different bags.

Don't just put radio gadgets in your jump bag either; You need to account for your personal health and safety as well.

Types of Assignments

Typical assignments for ARES/RACES operators include:
  1. Shadow for an official -- on foot and/or in the official's vehicle.
  2. Portable base station -- inside a building or tent.
  3. Fixed base station -- such as the EOC.
  4. Mobile in your own vehicle.
  5. Home station.
Thinking about how and where you may have to operate should help you develop your jump bag list. One important thing to remember is that you are likely to change assignments. Don't plan yourself into a corner, for example, by assuming since you are assigned to the EOC, you don't need to bring your radio and batteries.

Following is a list of suggested jump bag items developed through our group's collective experience and reference materials published by the Westchester County Office of Disaster and Emergency Services, the ARRL (ARRL Field Forum, Operating Manual), FEMA (Self-Study Courses: Emergency Preparedness USA, Radiological Emergency Response, etc.), the American Red Cross (Community First Aid and Safety Course, disaster prepardness brochures, etc.) and the National Weather Service.

See also the American Red Cross publication, "Expect the Unexpected", and January 1996 ARRL Field Forum: "Emergency Preparedness for Emergency Responders."
last updated March 12, 1997.

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