Perhaps you are new to Amateur Radio or you have recently renewed you interest in this wonderful and exciting hobby of communicating. Whatever your interest may be, it would be difficult to not at some point come into contact with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service or ARES as it is known. ARES is an official function of the ARRL, the National Association for Amateur Radio. ARES does many things and is involved in supporting emergency communications where ever and when ever requested by the served agencies we support.
ARES is not normally a club although there is an official structure operating under the national ARRL organization with a state level Section Emergency Coordinator followed by a District Emergency Coordinator and finally, at the county level, an Emergency Coordinator. Most local ARES groups are aligned with the County Emergency Management Agency or EMA as our primary served agency.
ARES activation and participation comes at the request of one of our served agencies. ARES members and volunteers never self deploy. Our activity is always under the direction and at the request of the served agency. This is necessary to prevent ARES personal from being a liability rather than an asset. It is imperative that we follow direction and operate within the overall umbrella of the served agency mission.
Activation may happen when ever there is an emergency situation when additional communication capability is required to support the disaster event. Much of our activity would be to supplement the normal public service communications capability by offloading ancillary traffic to ARES to free up official public service channels. Under more severe disaster situations, we may also directly participate in official communications when those facilities have been disabled or severely over loaded. In each case, ARES activities are under the control of the served agency. We are communicators and our activity is restricted to such, where our expertise is best utilized.
Closely aligned with ARES in most locations is the SKYWARN program under the National Weather Service. Although not officially a part of ARES, SKYWARN utilizes trained weather spotters who are often also Radio Amateurs to report severe weather activity to NWS providing real time information which is invaluable to our National Weather Service warning process. Weather Spotters and ARES member must always consider personal safety first and remain in contact with the Net Control station(s) to insure their safety.
ARES members utilize our personal equipment and local repeater system(s) to facilitate communications. We hold regularly scheduled Nets to practice handling emergency traffic and to exercise our equipment as well as repeaters and other equipment and materials which may be used in a real disaster or emergency situation Nets are managed by a Net Control Operator and are structured to practice those skills that will be necessary when a real emergency condition exist.
Additional information can be found on the Seneca County ARES website senecacountyares.org and on the official ARRL Headquarters website, arrl.org . Additional state level information can be found at, arrl-ohio.org.
Participation in ARES is open to anyone and all amateurs are encouraged to become active members in their local ARES organizations. ARES often provides classes to obtain or upgrade your Amateur Radio license. Additional training is also available in emergency management procedures via the FEMA program.