Amateur radio operators are sometimes asked to assist local government agencies, such as the county EMA or PEMA, during times of emergency conditions. Should the local or state government declare a State of Emergency for Lebanon County, the RACES group could be activated. RACES, Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, is defined in Part 97, Subpart E of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules. ARES, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, is organized by the ARRL, American Radio Relay League. ARES members help with emergency communications when requested during times of emergency situations that are declared as a State of Emergency.
Amateur radio operators are involved in emergency communications in other various ways…
RACES – Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service
RACES is a group of amateur radio operators who donate their services in the time of natural disaster or emergency. They provide communications for fire, police and other agencies that need assistance.
ARES – 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 operator, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization is eligible for membership in ARES. The only qualification, other than possession of a FCC-issued 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.
ARES and RACES – What’s the Difference?
Although ARES and RACES are separate entities, the ARRL advocates dual membership and cooperative efforts between both groups whenever possible. An ARES group whose members are all enrolled and certified by RACES can operate in an emergency with greater flexibility. Using the same operators and frequencies, an ARES group also enrolled as RACES can “switch hats” from ARES to RACES and from RACES to ARES to meet the requirements of the situation as it develops. For example, during a “non-declared” emergency, ARES can operate under ARES, and when an emergency or disaster is officially declared by a local or federal authority, the operator can become RACES with no change in personnel or frequencies.
Skywarn, founded in the 1970s, is made up of a group of trained, dedicated amateur weather enthusiasts who work in conjunction with the National Weather Service (NWS) by observing and reporting adverse weather conditions to promote public safety and minimize property damage. Since the advent of Doppler Radar and other technologies, the art of weather forecasting has made great strides. But, even with all the technology, the NWS is still in need of “ground-track” observers. The NWS provides training to interested volunteers, giving them the skills to become safe, effective, and accurate weather operators who will in turn provide the NWS with observations allowing accurate assessment of ground threats.