Letter Re: LEPCs Show That Help Won't Be Coming

Sunday, Feb 3, 2013

Just a few notes about RC’s article about ARES/RACES and becoming the EC.   I’ve been an emergency services volunteer since 1986 and a ham since 2003.

Actually, Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) is under the control of the ARRL.   RACES is the ham radio group that is activated by a government emergency person, usually the state’s governor.   In many small areas they are combined, but ARES can operate in an emergency without specific government authority.   RACES only acts in time of war or officially declared emergencies.  Unless a war is declared or martial law declared, you can help others using the radio all you want as a Ham.  Just don’t cause interference with any emergency traffic.

In most counties, the county/parish sheriff is the highest law enforcement official in that county and in my state is responsible for Search and Rescue also.  I suspect that Federal money is what keeps RC’s sheriff in a “Hands-off” position with the FEMA personnel.  I’ve served as AEC for my counties ARES/RACES team and we take the on-line course’s plus the NIMS 18 hour classes held at our local fire departments.

Long before I joined our local ARES/RACES team, it had been pushed into being part of the county SAR teams.    When I asked why asked ARES members who only operated the radios had to take ALL of the SAR classes (many weekends), I was ignored or told, “That’s the way it’s done here.”   I now volunteer with an adjoining counties ARES team and help folks by keeping my radio on at all hours (like the old REACT Channel 9 CB’ers did). - H.B.

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