RACES is an organization of amateur radio operators who volunteer to provide radio communications for State and local governments in times of emergency. Created in 1952 primarily to serve in civil defense emergencies, RACES provides essential communications and warning links to supplement State and local government assets during emergencies.
RACES is a special part of the amateur operation sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). RACES provides emergency communications for civil preparedness purposes only. RACES is conducted by amateurs using their primary station licenses or by existing RACES stations. In the event that the President invokes the War Emergency powers, amateurs officially enrolled in the local civil preparedness group would become limited to certain frequencies, while all other amateur operations would be silenced.
ARES is the "Amateur Radio Emergency Service." This is the national amateur radio emergency preparedness organization sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). This organization is completely different from RACES, although many goals are in common. In many cases, ARES will be used as a public service organization to assist with communications during non-emergency events such as parades, foot and bicycle races, and community events. Membership in the ARRL is not required for amateur radio operator to be an ARES member. In general, ARES is organized to serve the public, and RACES is organized to serve the government. It is desirable for RACES members to also be enrolled in the ARES program. The additional training received during ARES public service events can be of great value during times of emergency. In addition to this, there are times of emergency when ARES will be the first organization to activate for communications assistance. As an emergency escalates, the local Emergency Manager may call for a RACES activation. At this time, with radio operators already activated, the operation can smoothly go from an ARES operation to a RACES operation. It must be noted that when this happens, the RACES members are now under the supervision of the County RACES Radio Officer and the County Emergency Manager, and are no longer directly involved with the ARES operation. At this point, operations will usually move to the EOC if the radio operators are not already there. It is suggested that one operator on each shift remain with the ARES operation to act as liaison between RACES and the non-RACES stations which may be involved supporting other agencies or organizations. Whenever possible, RACES and ARES communications should be on different net frequencies. Cooperation between the ARES and RACES organizations is of high importance, and cannot be understated.
How We Will Accomplish Our Mission
Darrell Sperry, KA4TAR, Sevier County RACES Officer