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Questions often asked by new hams are: "What is ARES?" "What is RACES?" - "Why are there two groups and how are they different/work together?"

The ARRL has put together a page with just this information.

  • ARES = Amateur Radio Emergency Services
  • RACES = Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services.

Basically, ARES is a local structure, activated by local authorities.
RACES is a national structure, activated, organized and overseen by the Federal Government.

Often, participants belong to both groups simultaneously and depending on the event and who was activated and by who, they'll wear one hat or the other - or both.

Biggest guideline is "ARES is local, RACES is Federal" - sorta.

It is important to note

Durring RACES activations, ONLY RACES stations may operate on RACES frequencies 
or Communicate with other RACES stations!

See the ARRL FAQ for details


Participation in ARES is handled at the local level - pretty much if you want to help out and are able. Dive in.
Participation in RACES requires prior registration. Only RACES certified stations/operators are considered RACES participants.


One of the best sources for information about and participating in ARES, generally, is the Public Service Communications Manual.

ARES Training

As discussed at the recent club meetings, here is the link to the Incident Command System (ICS) training resources anyone interested in working with ARES in Natrona county should complete:

Suggested Courses for Local participation

Excerpt from: The ARES E-Letter for March 18, 2009
  • FEMA IS-100.B (Introduction to Incident Command System)
  • FEMA IS-200B (ICS for Single Resource and Initial Action Incidents)
  • FEMA IS-700.A (National Incident Management System, an introduction)

There are many more free, online classes. You are encouraged to browse through and take as many as you'd like.

Suggested Courses for National participation

Excerpt from: ARES E-Letter for October 17, 2008

If you haven't looked at the independent study programs of FEMA's Emergency Management Institute lately, do yourself a favor and click on: Many new courses have been added, and a few of the classic original courses have been revised. Some of the newer courses that struck me as significant for ARES members include:

  • IS-102 Deployment Basics for FEMA Response Partners (New 9/9/2008)
  • IS-802 Emergency Support Functions (ESF) #2 - Communications (New 8/6/2008)
  • IS-775 EOC Management and Operations (New 8/6/2008)
  • IS-100.a Introduction to Incident Command System (Revised 7/28/2008)
  • IS-200.a ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents (Revised 7/28/2008)
  • IS-809 Emergency Support Function (ESF) #9 - Search and Rescue (5/21/2008)
  • IS-808 Emergency Support Function (ESF) #8 - Public Health and Medical Services (4/11/2008)
  • IS-800.B National Response Framework, An Introduction (2/4/2008)

FEMA's Independent Study Program offers courses that support the nine mission areas identified by the National Preparedness Goal:

  1. Incident Management
  2. Operational Planning
  3. Disaster Logistics
  4. Emergency Communications
  5. Service to Disaster Victims
  6. Continuity Programs
  7. Public Disaster Communications
  8. Integrated Preparedness
  9. Hazard Mitigation.

Education in all of these should be ARES training goals. Here is what Dennis Dura, K2DCD, ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager, recently told the nation's Section Managers in regards to the ESF#2 Communications course:

"Many of you may already be aware of this course (IS-802), or have taken it.
It is a relatively new FEMA on-line independent study course that presents 
the concepts of Emergency Support Function #2 - Communications. For those that 
have heard my presentations around the country, I strongly encourage
integrating ARES in the local, county, regional or state government
emergency operations plans, of which ESF #2 is a part. This presents us 
a variety of mission options, not beholding to any one specific group, and 
we become more aligned with the emergency management structure. The course 
will take approximately 30 minutes to complete."

--Dennis Dura, K2DCD, ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager


See this page for information about and to subscribe to the ARRL E-Letter.


For information on RACES, see the WY RACES page here.