ACS / RACES / ARES
Auxiliary Communications Service / Amateur Radio Civil Emergency Service / Amateur Radio Emergency Service
Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency’s (PEMA) Auxiliary Communications Services (ACS) is a volunteer-based emergency communications reserve program that has both operational and educational components. ACS offers exciting ongoing and technically diverse training to its members. The ACS program was created by PEMA to supplement its emergency communications with unpaid staff. Skilled and dedicated people, licensed and unlicensed, can be recruited to serve in one or more of four categories: administrative, management, technical, and operations.
One service within the amateur radio services that uses amateur stations during periods of emergencies is known as the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, or RACES. To transmit in RACES, an amateur station must be certified and registered by a civil defense organization or an FCC-licensed RACES station. RACES is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and acts as a communications group of the government. Registered members of RACES are authorized to respond when a civil defense organization requests amateur radio assistance. Typically these activities occur during periods of local, regional or national civil emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods or wildfires. RACES stations may only communicate with specified stations [47CFR 97.407(c), (d)].
The ARRL describes the ARES programs as follows:
“The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs 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 for membership in ARES. The only qualification, other than possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve. Because ARES is an amateur service, only amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.”
ARRL Eastern PA ARES Emergency Coordinator Map
SEC – Section Emergency Coordinator
DEC – District Emergency Coordinator
EC – Emergency Coordinator (County level)