Union County ARES / RACES
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides planning
guidance and technical assistance for establishing a RACES organization at the state and local
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for the
regulation of RACES operations. RACES is administrated by a local, county, or state civil defense
agency responsible for disaster services. This civil defense agency is typically an emergency
services or emergency management organization, sometimes within another agency such as police or
fire. RACES is a function of the agency's Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), sometimes known as
DCS (Disaster Communications Service), ECS (Emergency Communications Service), ARPSC (Amateur Radio
Public Service Corps), etc. Many ACS units identify themselves solely as RACES organizations, even
though their communications functions and activities typically go beyond the restrictions of RACES
operations. Other ACS units combine government RACES and non-government ARES (Amateur Radio
Emergency Service) activities and identify themselves as ARES/RACES organizations. Yet other ACS
units who use amateur radio for emergency government communications identify themselves solely as
ARES organizations, whether or not they activate under FCC RACES Rules.
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 units 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.
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.
Whatever need arises, trained ACS personnel are ready and prepared
to help, via RACES or other means. ACS/RACES groups develop and maintain their communications
ability by training throughout the year with special exercises and public-service events. When that
fateful day occurs, ACS/RACES will be there to meet the challenge.
If you want to become an ACS or RACES member and to be able to participate in RACES and
other government emergency communications activities, contact your local, county, or state ACS
Officer or RACES Radio Officer or Coordinator.
( Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service )