RACES Background and Organization
Founded in 1952, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is a public service provided by a reserve (volunteer) communications group within government agencies in times of extraordinary need. During periods of RACES activation, certified unpaid personnel are called upon to perform many tasks for the government agencies they serve. Although the exact nature of each activation will be different, the common thread is communications.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides planning guidance and technical assistance for
establishing a RACES organization at the state and local government level. A comprehensive RACES manual,
Guidance for Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, is available on the FEMA Web site
The Amateur Radio Regulations, Part 97, Subpart E, §97.407, were created by the FCC to describe RACES operations in detail. Although no longer issued or renewable, RACES station licenses were issued in the past by the FCC to government agencies for RACES operations. The agencies may continue to conduct RACES operations without these licenses, using primary or club call signs.
ACS, in its RACES and other reserve emergency communications functions, provides a pool of emergency communications personnel that can be called upon in time of need. ACS/RACES groups across the country prepare themselves for the inevitable day when they will be called upon. When a local, county, or state government agency activates its ACS unit, that unit will use its communications resources (RACES, if necessary) to meet whatever need that agency has.
Traditional RACES operations involve emergency message handling on Amateur Radio Service frequencies. These operations typically involve messages between critical locations such as hospitals, emergency services, emergency shelters, and any other locations where communication is needed. These communications are handled in any mode available, with 2 meters FM being the most prevalent. During time of war, when the President exercises his War Emergency Powers, RACES might become the only communications allowed via amateur radio, using specific amateur frequencies set aside for wartime RACES use. ACS provides greater flexibility than RACES for non-wartime emergencies, on any amateur frequency designated in the local, county, or state ACS (or RACES) plan. Activating under the FCC's restrictive RACES Rules is not always necessary when using Amateur Radio Service frequencies for emergency communications. For example, ACS communicators may need to communicate with ARES or other radio amateurs who are not government-certified to operate in a RACES net. ACS personnel also might become involved in non-amateur public-safety or other government communications, Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staffing, and emergency equipment repair.
Event Communications Service and support!
The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service has been known for a number of years as ''back-up'' communications during times of natural and man made disaster all across the country.
You might have heard about us via the National Weather Service, where we serve as Skywarn Spotters or from the National Red Cross where we provide Health and Welfare message delivery communications throughout the US.
Not many people know that we also provide communications service and ''Route Support'' for many community-based projects, marches and marathons.
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible for membership in the ARES. The only qualification, other than possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve. Because ARES is an amateur service, only amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership. There are four levels of ARES organization--national, section, district and local. National emergency coordination at ARRL Headquarters is under the supervision of the ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager, who is responsible for advising all ARES officials regarding their problems, maintaining contact with federal government and other national officials concerned with amateur emergency communications potential, and in general with carrying out the League's policies regarding emergency communications.
The Amateur Radio Public Service Corps (ARPSC) of Wayne County consists of volunteer amateur radio operators who have registered themselves as ARES and/or RACES volunteers and passed FEMA requirments. These volunteers are those who desire to help their community during times of crisis. Wayne County's ARPSC is actively involved in supporting Detroit Metro Airport, Fermi 2, and any other activations we are asked to support the County. We are considered primary communications in Wayne County's Standard Operating Guidelines. If you are a licensed Amateur Radio Operator and want to help your community, consider joining the Wayne County Amateur Radio Public Service Corp.
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