The first principle listed by the FCC that forms the basis of the Amateur Radio Service is:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
One way to prepare for emergency communications is to volunteer to provide communications for public events. Most of these events require only a technician license, an HT, and a willingness to learn proper procedure. In some cases more powerful radios or special communications techniques like APRS or NBEMS may be required but those are special cases. If an operator has no experience in these situations, the communication leaders will normally try to pair them with another experienced operator so they may learn from the experience.
To volunteer for these events, either look for e-mail announcements from the communications leader or from club leadership.
For more information on how to participate in Public Service events, refer to the following page on the ARRL web site: