Amateur radio operators serve the public as a voluntary noncommercial communications service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) consists of Amateur Radio licensees 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 to apply for membership in ARES. Training may be required or desired to participate fully in ARES. The local ARES Emergency Coordinator can provide specifics. Because ARES is an Amateur Radio program, only licensed radio amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.
RACES stands for "Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service," a protocol created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (
FCC Part 97, Section 407). Many government agencies across the country train their Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) volunteers using the RACES protocol. The volunteers serve their respective jurisdictions pursuant to guidelines and mandates established by local emergency management officials.
RACES volunteer operators are:
- Licensed Radio Amateurs
- Certified by a civil defense (Emergency Management) agency
- Able to communicate on Amateur Radio frequencies during drills, exercises and emergencies
- Activated by local, county and state jurisdictions and are the only Amateur Radio operators authorized to transmit during declared emergencies when the President of the United States specifically invokes the War Powers Act.