This week, Delaware County’s Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), the FCC-licensed volunteer amateur radio operator organization trained and managed by the County’s Department of Emergency Services, was excited to participate in the American Radio Relay League’s (ARRL) National Field Day exercise.

Held at the Radnor Township Municipal Building, the two-day National Field Day invited residents and local officials to rub elbows with ARES volunteers and DES staffers while learning about the invaluable role the two organizations share in the event of national, regional, or local emergencies. 

Licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and trained in the art and science of radio communication and basic electronics theory, ARES is designed to provide critical and reliable communications if the normal infrastructure is offline during times of disaster.

The purpose of ARRL Field Day is to simulate such a national-level disaster where normal communications infrastructure is impacted over a wide area.

During the exercise, ARES volunteers and hams (the informal name for amateur radio operators) from across the nation set up antennas and radios in the “field” and attempt to make as many radio contacts as possible with other hams across the globe in a 24-hour period—a fun opportunity for ARES and DES to engage with the public while showcasing the science, service, and skills offered by this dedicated volunteer community.

The exercise also provides ARES and DES the chance to showcase the County's new mobile communications trailer, introduce amateurs and members of the community to their work, and engage with residents of all ages.

The collaboration provides essential communication support, crucial for maintaining community safety and effective emergency response. 

“Field day is a great opportunity to develop skills that meet the challenges of emergency preparedness and to acquaint the general public with the capabilities of amateur radio,” said Department of Emergency Services Volunteer Manager Kelly Sides. 

“This yearly event allows our committed volunteers to showcase their talents which they use to offer support to our friends, neighbors, and communities every day, not just during emergencies,” said Tammi Maciolek, DES Emergency Management Specialist. “This exercise also allows those who have not yet obtained their radio licensure to get on the air with the ARES team,” added Maciolek.

Radio has gone high-tech—not your Father's HAM radio

Assistance Emergency Coordinator (and ARES Volunteer) Richard Caruth,
Emergency Coordinator (and ARES Volunteer) Chris Kelleher,
and DES Emergency Management Specialist Tammi Maciolek
pictured with the youngest members of the Koerner family.

Richard Caruth and Tammi Maciolek demonstrating field day equipment and procedures

More About ARES

Amateur radio operators provide a critical public service for our community by providing reliable communications when the normal infrastructure is offline.

When regular communication channels fail such as the Internet or a cell phone network, hams under the direction of ARES are prepared to swing into action, assisting emergency communications efforts and working with public service agencies.

ARES extends its vital services to local, county, and state agencies, including the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during disasters and emergencies. Whether it's a public service event, a widespread health emergency, or an essential exercise and drill, ARES ensures that communication lines remain open and effective.

Delaware County ARES operates ten repeaters dedicated to emergency communications from five sites within the county. The locations of the repeater systems offer large radio frequency footprints providing excellent coverage for portable, mobile, and fixed radio communication throughout Delaware County and adjacent areas. With ARES, Delaware County stays connected, prepared, and resilient, no matter what challenges arise.

ARES is coordinated by volunteer Chris Kelleher who has a team of dedicated individuals who assist in the daily operations. Tammi Maciolek, the DES Emergency Management Specialist, is also the Delco ARES Liaison. Chris and Tammi work diligently to ensure that the ARES volunteer— dedicated, well-trained, and knowledgeable professionals—have everything needed to continue supporting our communities with the expert level of service they provide.

For more information on becoming a volunteer with ARES or any other entity of Delaware County Citizen Corps please visit or contact Kelly Sides or ARES of Delaware County at Information on the National Association of Amateur Radio (AARL) can be found at

About ARRL

Founded in 1914, ARRL (the American Radio Relay League) is the national association for amateur radio in the US. Today, with more than 161,000 members, ARRL is the largest organization of radio amateurs in the United States and the primary source of information about what is going on in the ham radio world.