What kind of communications assistance does ARES provide?
Most of the activities are on VHF voice. However, all authorized amateur frequencies and modes, HF, packet, Winlink and others can be used. ARES has permanent stations at city and county EOCs and at the public health headquarters.
What is the difference between ARES and RACES?
ARES is the emergency communications and disaster preparedness arm of the ARRL. The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is the emergency communications and disaster preparedness arm of the US Government. RACES is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is under the jurisdiction of the FCC. Like ARES, RACES is made up of amateur volunteers, but its scope is more narrowly defined because it’s limited to providing government-to-government communications for state and local civil defense organizations and government emergency preparedness agencies. In Okaloosa County, ARES members are registered as disaster service workers and as such can meet any emergency communications need.
What do ARES members do?
As the names suggest, ARES and RACES provide a single “service” – communications. Therefore, the members are trained to be skilled emergency communicators. However, this does not necessarily mean you have to go into the field. There are jobs you can do from your home or office, like being the net control or helping make telephone calls.
What equipment do I need?
A 2-meter hand-held transceiver is a good start. However, if you don’t yet have a radio, you can get started on your training and participate in some activities without one.
How much does it cost?
It does not cost anything to join ARES. However, you will find your membership a really good excuse to buy some extra “goodies” to meet your new responsibilities!
What about uniforms?
An ARES uniform shirt may be adopted by the Okaloosa County ARES group. However, you are not required to purchase one before you can start training and participate. The uniform is very helpful when members are working in the field with other agencies so they can be easily recognized as radio operators.
What training am I given?
The training given to ARES members is centered on the knowledge and skills needed to be a good emergency communicator. The training is combination of classroom, on-the-air, and hands-on experiences. Once you feel comfortable in the role of communicator, you can maintain that level or move on to more specialized training. Some of this training is done at regular ARES meetings and some is set up for different times. ARES members are encouraged to participate in local area Nets and events to practice their communication skills.
I’m interested! How do I sign up?
Contact the district emergency coordinator at 850-651-4545, or come to one of our monthly meetings held the fourth Saturday of each month at the County EOC building, 90 E College Blvd, Niceville starting at 14:00 CT. Please call 850-651-4545 for entrance to the building. It is a closed to the public area.
ARES is a national organization of the American Radio Relay League.
For more information, call the emergency coordinator at 850-651-4545.