As a public service-oriented Amateur Radio organization, the Frederick Amateur Radio Club encourages its members and all other Hams in the community to get involved with the emergency service aspects of Ham Radio. Actually, providing support in local and national emergency situations is one of the basic precepts of the Amateur Radio Service in the United States.
The ARES and RACES structures are the two main avenues for Amatuer Radio support in emergency situations. ARES and RACES are similar in that they are Emergency Services (thus the "ES" at the end of both acronyms), but they are very different in purpose and scope.
"ARES" stands for the "Amateur Radio Emergency Service". ARES is sponsored by the ARRL. The purpose of ARES is to provide an organized cadre of trained Ham communicators who are ready, willing and able to respond at the local level when normal communications fail or become inadequate in an emergency situation.
"RACES" stands for the "Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service". RACES is more formally-organized than ARES, operating under the overall control of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and requiring that Ham operators register with the local (e.g., county) emergency services authority before they can participate in RACES emergency communications.
Where ARES groups and operators can "respond" on an ad-hoc basis to emergencies, RACES operators must be "activated" by the local government entity with which they are registered. And when activated, RACES operators are only permitted to communicate with other RACES operators until released from their activated status.
Both ARES and RACES provide vital communications services to the community and are essential cornerstones of the Amateur Radio Service and the hobby we all enjoy. In the future, we will offer more detailed information on both ARES and RACES as these services evolve in the context of the larger Homeland Security structure.
If you wish to get involved in either or both of these services in Frederick County, Maryland, please click here to download the combined ARES/RACES registration form in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. Print the form, complete the appropriate sections, then mail it to:
Please note that you need to complete FEMA Independent Study Program courses ICS 700 and ICS 100 before your registration can be accepted by the County. Thank you for your interest.
Questions or comments?