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Posts: 348
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:47 pm
First Name: Alan
Last Name: Sieg
City: Madison
State: AL
Mail Zip Code: 35758
License Class: Extra
Location: Sullivan @ Browns Ferry in Madison, AL


Post by wb5rmg » Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:21 am

If Amateur Radio operators are sometimes confused about which group does what, or how we can all work together to accomplish a common goal - then is is not surprising that the general public responds with a blank stare when we offer up various acronyms and pronunciations in an attempt to explain what our mission is.

In simplest form, our mission is to provide a 'non-commercial communications service' for use in many different aspects of public service. Sometimes it may be providing long-distance health and welfare messages into or out of an earthquake-stricken city, or sometimes a simple coordination channel for a small parade or bicycle tour. In different parts of the country, various groups of ham radio operators provide these services under several different names. Today there is much greater variety in capabilities, opportunities, requirements, and liabilities, that affect the underlying structure of the supporting organizations. This Topic will undoubtedly go through several update cycles, in effort to find the right words and concepts to provide the most meaningful understanding of our organization's roles and responsibilities.

Currently, Madison County enjoys both ARES and RACES organizations. While we hope to present our talents as a unified service, the two organizations have different guidelines and requirements. We have consolidated most of the record-keeping, notification systems, and other detail management to reduce the burden on our volunteer coordinators. While we will on occasion refer to one or the other by a specific name, we most often intend to refer to the 'Amateur Radio Communications Service' as a philosophical generic entity, rather than as a completely new and different acronym for the confusion of all involved. This is a functionally descriptive name, not associated with any organizational confusion.

I'll be back as time allows to further define and explain the sometimes subtle differences. Basically for a quick overview:

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is organized at the national level by the ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager, but any licensed amateur radio operator with a sincere desire to serve is eligible for membership.

Radio Amateur Communications Emergency Service (RACES) has it's roots in and is generally connected to a local or regional government entity such as our local Madison County Emergency Management Agency. There are some specific guidelines and requirements associated with RACES operations, that will always be handled differently than ARES.

Fortunately, we have the support of both organizations, in our consolidation of this management task of providing an organized group of trained, dedicated, and resourceful communications providers. Beyond providing communications support for regional EMAs, the American Red Cross, and the NWS SKYWARN program, Amateur Radio Communications Services play an important role in numerous bicycle tours, Walk-a-thons, parades and other public events all across the country.

Thanks /;^)
###### WB5RMG is Alan Sieg ## ######
ARRL/ARES Assistant Emergency Coordinator, Madison County Alabama