The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) consists of Amateur Radio licensees who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible to apply for membership in ARES. Training may be required or desired to participate fully in ARES. The local ARES Emergency Coordinator can provide specifics. Because ARES is an Amateur Radio program, only licensed radio amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.
ARES Organization: National Level
There are four levels of ARES organization — national, section, district, and local. National emergency coordination at ARRL Headquarters is under the supervision of the ARRL Field Services and Radiosport Manager or his/her designee, who is responsible for advising all ARES officials regarding their problems, maintaining contact with federal government and other national officials concerned with amateur emergency communications potential, and in general with carrying out the ARRL’s policies regarding emergency communications. These functions are carried out through the ARRL field organization supervisor and the emergency preparedness program.
The Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) is the assistant to the Section Manager (SM) for emergency preparedness. The SEC is appointed by the SM to take care of all matters pertaining to emergency communications and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) on a section-wide basis. The SEC post is one of top importance in the section and the individual appointed to it should devote all possible energy and effort to this one challenging organizational program for Amateur Radio. There is only one SEC appointed in each section of the ARRL Field Organization.
- Encourage all groups of community amateurs to establish a local emergency organization.
- Advise the SM on all section emergency policy and planning, including the development of a section emergency communications plan.
- Cooperate and coordinate with the Section Traffic Manager so that emergency nets and traffic nets in the section present a united public service front, particularly in the proper routing of Welfare traffic in emergency situations. Cooperation and coordination should also be maintained with other section leadership officials as appropriate, particularly with the State Government Liaison and
Public Information Coordinator.
- Recommend candidates for Emergency Coordinator and District Emergency Coordinator appointments (and cancellations) to the Section Manager, and determine areas of jurisdiction of each amateur so appointed. At the SM’s discretion, the SEC may be directly in charge of making (and canceling) such appointments. In the same way, the SEC can handle the Official Emergency Station appointments.
- Promote ARES membership drives, meetings, activities, tests, procedures, etc., at the section level.
- Collect and consolidate Emergency Coordinator (or District Emergency Coordinator) monthly
reports and submit monthly progress summaries to the SM and ARRL Headquarters. This includes the timely reporting of emergency and public safety communications rendered in the section for inclusion in QST.
- Maintain contact with other communication services and serve as liaison at the section level with all agencies served in the public interest, particularly in connection with state and local government, civil preparedness, Federal Emergency Management Agency, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, the National Weather Service, and so on. Such contact is maintained in cooperation with the State Government Liaison.
- Section Emergency Coordinators are encouraged to complete ARRL Emergency Communications training Introduction to Emergency Communications (EC-001) and Public Service and Emergency Communications Management for Radio Amateurs.
In the large sections, the local groups could proliferate to the point where simply keeping track of them would be more than a full-time chore, not to mention trying to coordinate them in an actual emergency. To this end, SECs have the option of grouping their Emergency Coordinators (EC) jurisdictions into logical units or “Districts” and appointing a District EC to coordinate the activities of the local ECs in the district. In some cases, the districts may conform to the boundaries of governmental planning or emergency operations districts, while in others they are simply based on repeater coverage or geographical boundaries. Figure 1 depicts the typical section ARES program leadership structure within the section.
The ARRL District Emergency Coordinator is appointed by the SEC to supervise the efforts of local Emergency Coordinators in the defined district.
- Coordinate the training, organization, and emergency participation of Emergency Coordinators in your district of jurisdiction.
Make local decisions in the absence of the SEC or through coordination with the SEC, concerning the allotment of available amateurs and equipment during an emergency.
- Coordinate the interrelationship between local emergency plans and between communications networks within your area of jurisdiction.
- Act as backup for local areas without an Emergency Coordinator and assist in maintaining contact with governmental and other agencies within your area of jurisdiction.
- Provide direction in the routing and handling of emergency communications of either a formal or tactical nature, with specific emphasis being placed on Welfare traffic.
- Recommend EC appointments to the SEC.
- Coordinate the reporting and documenting of ARES activities in your district of jurisdiction.
- Act as a model emergency communicator as evidenced by dedication to purpose, reliability, and understanding of emergency communications.
- Be fully conversant in National Traffic System routing and procedures, and have a thorough understanding of the locale and role of all vital governmental and volunteer agencies that could be involved in an emergency.
- Encouraged to earn certification in Levels 1 and 2 of the ARRL Emergency Communications Course.
The local ARES program is coordinated through the local Emergency Coordinator.
The ARRL Emergency Coordinator is a key team player in ARES on the local emergency scene. Working with the Section Emergency Coordinator, the DEC, and Official Emergency Stations, the EC prepares for and engages in management of communications needs in disasters. To be appointed as an EC requires a Technician Class or higher Amateur Radio license and ARRL membership.
The key responsibilities of the EC are
- Promote and enhance the activities of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) for the benefit of the public as a voluntary, non-commercial communications service.
- Manage and coordinate the training, organization, and emergency participation of interested amateurs working in support of the communities, agencies, or functions designated by the Section Emergency Coordinator/Section Manager.
- Establish viable working relationships with federal, state, county, city governmental and private agencies in the ARES jurisdictional area which need the services of ARES in emergencies. Determine what agencies are active in your area, evaluate each of their needs, and which ones you are capable of meeting, and then prioritize these agencies and needs. Discuss your planning with your Section Emergency Coordinator and then with your counterparts in each of the agencies. Ensure they are all aware of your ARES group’s capabilities and, perhaps more importantly, your limitations.
- Develop detailed local operational plans with served agencies and partners in your jurisdiction that set forth precisely what each of your expectations are during a disaster operation. Work jointly to establish protocols for mutual trust and respect. All matters involving recruitment and utilization of ARES volunteers are directed by you, in response to the needs assessed by the agency officials. Technical issues involving message format, security of message transmission, Disaster Welfare Inquiry policies, and others, should be reviewed and expounded upon in your detailed local operations plans.
- Establish local communications networks run on a regular basis and periodically test those networks by conducting realistic drills.
- Establish an emergency traffic plan, with Welfare traffic, utilizing the National Traffic System as one active component for traffic handling. Establish an operational liaison with local and section nets, particularly for handling Welfare traffic in an emergency situation.
- In times of disaster, evaluate the communications needs of the jurisdiction and respond quickly to those needs. The EC will assume authority and responsibility for coordinating emergency response and performance by ARES personnel under his or her jurisdiction.
- Work with other non-ARES amateur providers of Amateur Radio emergency communications to establish mutual respect and understanding, and a coordination mechanism for the good of the public and Amateur Radio. The goal is to foster an efficient and effective Amateur Radio response overall.
- Work for growth in your ARES program, making it a stronger, more valuable resource and hence able to meet more of the agencies’ local needs. There are thousands of new Technicians coming into the Amateur Service that would make ideal additions to your ARES roster. A stronger ARES means a better ability to serve your communities in times of need and a greater sense of pride for Amateur Radio by both amateurs and the public.
- Report regularly to the SEC, as required.
- ECs are encouraged to complete the ARRL EC-001, Introduction to Emergency Communications training course.
Assistants can be appointed at the Section (Assistant SEC), District (Assistant DEC), or local (Assistant EC) levels. At the Section and District levels, the appointment is made by the SEC. At the local level, the appointment is made by the EC and ARRL membership is not required. Assistants may serve to oversee a particular function such as reporting, training, or exercises. Assistants may also be appointed to work with specific partner agencies and organizations.
Official Emergency Stations
Amateur operators may be appointed as an Official Emergency Station (OES) by their Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) or Section Manager (SM) at the recommendation of the EC, or DEC (if no EC) of that jurisdiction. The OES appointee must be an ARRL member and set high standards of emergency preparedness and operating. The OES appointee makes a deeper commitment to the ARES program in terms of functionality than does the rank-and-file ARES registrant.
The OES appointee is appointed to carry out specific functions and assignments designated by the appropriate EC or DEC. The OES appointee and the presiding EC or DEC, at the time of the OES appointment, will mutually develop a detailed, operational function/assignment and commitment for the new appointee. Together, they will develop a responsibility plan for the individual OES appointee that makes the best use of the individual’s skills and abilities. During drills and actual emergency situations, the OES appointee will be expected to implement his/her function with professionalism and minimal supervision.
To be appointed as an OES an amateur must: be a full member of the ARRL; have experience as an ARES registrant; exhibit regular participation in the local ARES organization, including drills and tests; participate in emergency nets and actual emergency situations; engage in regular reporting of activities; and is encouraged to complete the ARRL EC-001, Introduction to Emergency Communications course.
OES responsibilities include
- Operations — responsible for specific, pre-determined operational assignments during drills or actual emergency situations. Examples include: Net Control Station or Net Liaison for a specific ARES net; manage operation of a specified ARES VHF or HF digital BBS or MBO, or point-to- point link; operate station at a specified emergency management office, American Red Cross shelter, or other served agency operations point.
- Administration — responsible for specific, pre-determined administrative tasks as assigned in the initial appointment commitment by the presiding ARES official. Examples include: recruitment of ARES members; liaison with Public Information Officer to coordinate public information for the media; ARES registration database management; survivor database management; equipment
inventory; training; reporting, and post-event analysis.
- Liaison — responsible for specific, pre-determined liaison responsibilities as assigned by the
presiding EC or DEC. Examples include: maintaining contact with assigned served agencies; maintaining liaison with specified NTS nets; maintaining liaison with ARES officials in adjacent jurisdictions, and liaison with mutual assistance or “jump” teams.
- Logistics — responsible for specific, pre-determined logistical functions as assigned. Examples include: transportation; supplies management and procurement (food, fuel, water, etc.); equipment maintenance and procurement —radios, computers, generators, batteries, and antennas.
- Management Assistant — responsible for serving as an assistant manager to the EC, DEC, or SEC based on specific functional assignments or geographic areas of responsibility.
- Consulting — responsible for consulting with ARES officials in specific areas of expertise.
- OES appointees may be assigned to pre-disaster, post-disaster, and recovery functions. These functions must be specified in the OES’s appointment commitment plan.
- The OES appointee is expected to participate in planning meetings, and post-event evaluations. Following each drill or actual event, the EC/DEC and the OES appointee should review and update the OES assignment as required. The OES appointee must keep a detailed log of events during drills and actual events in his/her area of responsibility to facilitate this review.
- Continuation of the appointment is at the discretion of the appointing official, based upon the OES appointee’s fulfillment of the tasks he/she has agreed to perform.
Public Information Officer
ARRL Public Information Officers (PIOs) are appointed by their Section Manager and report to their ARRL section Public Information Coordinator (PIC). The Section Manager may, at his/her discretion, delegate this appointment authority to the section PIC. PIOs are generally recommended by an affiliated club for appointment consideration and must be full ARRL members. Training for PIOs should be provided regularly on a sectional or regional basis by the PIC and/or other qualified people.
- Establish and maintain a list of media contacts in the local area; strive to establish and maintain personal contacts with appropriate representatives of those media (e.g., editors, news directors, science reporters, etc.).
- Becomes a contact for the local media and assures that editors/reporters who need information about Amateur Radio know where to find it.
- Works with local government liaisons to establish personal contacts with local government officials where possible and explain to them, briefly and non-technically, about Amateur Radio and how it can help their communities.
- Keep informed of activities by local hams and identify and publicize those that are newsworthy or carry human interest appeal. (This is usually done through news releases or suggestions for interviews or feature stories).
- Attempt to deal with and minimize any negative publicity about Amateur Radio and to correct any negative stories which are incorrectly attributed to Amateur Radio operators.
- Generate advance publicity through the local media of scheduled activities of interest to the general public, including licensing classes, hamfests, club meetings, Field Day operations, etc.
- Publicizes ARRL-related stories of local news interest, including election and appointment of local hams to leadership positions, QST articles by local authors, or local achievements noted or featured in QST.
- Maintain contact with the Emergency Coordinator and/or District Emergency Coordinator. Help prepare an emergency response public relations kit.
- Assist the section PIC in recruiting hams for the section’s Speakers Bureau; promote interest among community and service organizations in finding out more about Amateur Radio through the bureau and relay requests to the PIC.
- Help individual hams and radio clubs to develop and promote good ideas for community projects and special events to display Amateur Radio to the public in a positive light.
- Attend regional training sessions sponsored by section PICs.
- Become familiar with ARRL Public Service Announcements (PSAs), brochures, and audiovisual materials; contact local radio and TV stations to arrange airing of Amateur Radio PSAs; secure appropriate brochures and audiovisual materials for use in conjunction with planned activities.
- Keep the section PIC fully informed on activities and places PIC on news release mailing list.
The amateur who serves as a member of his or her local ARES group is in the front line of service to their community. The two requirements for ARES membership are a valid Amateur Radio license and a willingness to serve. ARES participation at the local level may require specific training. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible to apply for membership in ARES. Once the application for ARES membership has been completed it should go to the local ARES EC for approval.
Full membership in the local ARES program may require additional training. Initial training and regular refresher courses, are important when working with served agencies. Check with your local EC on training requirements.
The ARES Planning Committee serves at the local level and is chaired by the local EC. The committee membership should also include assistant ECs. Additionally ARES members, partner agency and organization representatives, and delegates from area Amateur Radio clubs may also serve on the committee. The committee serves to discuss and resolve problems encountered by the local ARES group, training activities, on-air activities, and ARES events and deployments. The planning committee also plays a key role during the after-action report process following an emergency or disaster where ARES is utilized in the community.