Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services(RACES)

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RACES LogoHello everybody and welcome back to my blog. First off I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all the new people that have followed my blog here recently. Thank you so much for helping make my blog a success. Please share my blog with your friends and help me grow it even more. I am creeping up on the 100 likes on my facebook page. Now, on to the topic of the day, RACES.

First off, as the topic title, says RACES stands for Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services. RACES is a protocol created by FEMA and the FCC, Part 97, Section 407. Many government agencies across the country train their communications volunteers using the RACES protocol. Unlike Skywarn, RACES is operated strictly by amateur radio operators. The RACES organization is administered by the local, county and state emergency management agencies. Operators that are part of a RACES team have to be certified by a civil defense agency.

RACES operators are used to provide communications for civil preparedness purposes only during periods of local, county, state or national civil emergencies. When an emergency occurs, the RACES team is activated by the local, county or 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. So what is the War Powers Act? It is a bill that was passed in 1973, that when enacted requires the President of the United States to withdraw all troops engaged in hostilities abroad with 60 to 90 days unless the president seeks authorization from Congress to keep the troops at war. It was made when Congress believed that several previous presidents exceeded their authority when they sent troops to Vietnam without congressional approval. Why would this be enacted in current times, I can see, but will it, I doubt it.

Along these same lines though, during a RACES event, be it a drill or an actual emergency Non-RACES members can not talk with RACES members on the air on the frequency that is being used for said drill/emergency. In some ways, it seems kind of harsh to me to not allow non members to talk on the drill/emergency frequency, but I can also see why it is set that way. Non-members might not have the training required to not say something they are not suppose to or to assist in a way physically required at the location of the emergency.

RACES organizations should, and most often do, provide both on the air and in person training to their members. If they don’t then how are volunteers suppose to know what to do in time of an actual disaster. Their are however, limitations to “RACES training”. On the air training is limited to one hour per week. A larger scale training may be done with the approval of the chief officer for emergency planning. With approval, training may last up to 72 hours but can not be done more than twice a year. The large scale drill is likely to have multiple agencies participating in it so that the most information and training can be obtained during the event.

There are a lot of resources on the internet that involve RACES training. If you would like to learn more about it, do a search on google for “Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services“. Below are a few of the links that I found that had quite a bit of information in them:

  • National Incident Management System(NIMS) – This system is part of the required training to be a RACES operator. At the very least you must take IS-100.b and IS-700.a but if you want to take it a step further, take the IS-200.b and IS-800.b courses. All four courses can be taken online. Click Here for the complete NIMS ISP online courses
  • Arlington County RACES Resource Library – This is a page of links for different study materials provide by the Arlington County OEM Auxiliary Communications Services in Arlington, VA

I think that is going to wrap up this post. I think I will leave the tying it altogether for my next post. As always, thanks for reading my blog and please share it with your friends. Also, please like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Linked to all of them are on the right side of my page towards the top. Until next time,

73 de Curtis, K5CLM

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  • sdorttuii plmnr

    Would you be serious about exchanging hyperlinks?