Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES)
If you have questions regarding joining ARES® you can contact our Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) Bob Turner W6HRK. He will be glad to answer any questions that you might have. You may also view the Contact Us page for a listing of Emergency Coordinators and their contact information.
ARES Mission Statement
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service, a program of the ARRL, offers to its partners at all levels, trained Amateur Radio Service licensees who are skilled in the use of a wide range of emergency and disaster communications techniques and who are committed to supporting our partners’ missions in service to the public.
ARES Vision Statement
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®), a program of ARRL, The national association for Amateur Radio®, is comprised of organized, trained, and identified Amateur Radio operators who augment and support vital communications on behalf of the public through partner agencies and organizations during emergencies and disasters. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service, through its volunteer radio communicators, strives to be an effective partner in emergency and disaster response, providing public service partners at all levels with radio communications expertise, capability, and capacity.
Our Expertise, Capability, and Capacity
Amateur Radio operators (“hams”) possess unique skills. While a ham’s license allows the operation of radio equipment on a wide range of frequencies with varying propagation conditions, hams also are capable of setting up field stations and portable antennas, and using non-conventional means of getting a message through when other systems are overloaded or have failed.
These skill sets are created and improved by the local ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) group through thorough training that is formal or informal, and often in conjunction with local agencies where the team can meet the individuals with whom they can expect to be operating during a true emergency. This effort is a strong contributor to developing mutual trust and understanding among the key individuals managing any emergency operation, and should be exercised at every opportunity.
ARES groups have actively engaged in the following steps so that they have the ability to perform certain actions and meet their objectives. Further, a goal of the ARES program is to ensure that program participants continue to improve and develop additional capabilities for serving the needs of partners.
• Net operations and traffic passing provide experience in on-the-air operating, including net procedures and routines that are easily learned and adopted. Experience resulting from regular net participation ensures that established procedures and routines for net participation become rote practices for participants.
• The Amateur Radio discipline of DXing (contacting distant stations) offers ways of improving skills in operating under adverse conditions like interference (QRM) and static (QRN). The skills involved in copying transmissions subject to severe noise levels or interference come only through the actual experience of operating under severe conditions. Contacting DX stations, even occasionally, offers the unique experience necessary for skill level improvement.
• Radiosport, also known as “contesting,” teaches ways to operate with a fixed format at high contact rates. Learning a fixed routing plan and employing common practices and terminology sets the expectations for network participants so they can anticipate the procedures used by the net and more readily adapt to the net routines.
• Effective exercises offer locally developed scenarios to practice for hazards and threats. Having an established written policy relating to the most likely emergency scenarios allows ARES participants to understand the procedures for activating for a given situation. Severe weather events may be quite different from a wildfire, for example, requiring contact with different agencies and different skill sets from ARES participants. A well-written emergency communications plan greatly simplifies activation procedures and ensures that smaller items are not inadvertently overlooked.
• Emergency and disaster response provides experience with actual pressures and changing requirements found in such environments. Having the opportunity to participate in emergency or disaster response offers one with valuable lessons and experiences. Therefore, it is important for those involved in the response to participate in the After-Action Reports (AAR) and debriefing process, so that all participants can learn from those who have operated in emergency conditions. Careful attention to details and retention of notes is an important part of completing this important educational task.
In this application, capacity means the limits imposed by available ARES resources and the scope of the Amateur Radio service. These limits may be technical, personnel, equipment, or regulatory, in nature, and may prevent an ARES group from providing additional services. Each ARES group has capacity limits, and it is incumbent for ARES Leadership to be acutely aware of their capacity to serve, so the group is never overcommitted. Further, each group should strive to match their capacity with partner needs and plan for extension of that capacity as appropriate. An emergency communications plan should detail existing ARES group capacity and plans for expansion, depending upon local needs.
There are two methods for establishing and determining capacity:
1. Utilization of effective communications methodologies, including
• Various available field resources for communicating, such as VHF, UHF, HF, repeaters, accepted simplex frequencies, and local/regional HF networks
• Integrating messaging networks such as high-speed multimedia (HSMM) networks, the National Traffic System (NTS), and NTS-Digital (NTSD), along with new technology and data communications, and
• Cross-training with other communications services such as Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN), Military Auxiliary Radio Service (MARS), and local public safety.
2. Engagement with the Community through
• Working with state and local officials
• Participation in neighborhood programs
• Cooperating with local CERT, National Weather Service SKYWARN, and similar programs, and
• Assisting with community events, such as rallies, races, marathons, parades, all of which create training opportunities and team building.