RACES - Radio Amateur Emergency Communications
I’m involved in my local township’s RACES organization as well as with some county level events.
RACES in a nutshell provides emergency communications under the hierarchy of DHS -> OEM -> RACES. We can be activated by federal mandates to mobilize and provide communications augmentation in times of civil emergencies.
If a hurricane should come through and wipe out major communications infrastructures like internet based services, municipal communications towers, cellphone communications, our membership is equipped and practiced in using makeshift and otherwise portable communications equipment. We can provide wireless communications links in a very short time until the major infrastructures get a chance to reinstantiate or repair their own assets.
Some of the things we can provide
- Radio based voice communications - Reporting local conditions in the environment, conditions at the local hospitals and incident command centers and other related info in and around the incident areas.
- Radio based data links - We have the ability to bring up portable data links to enable doing things like tracking those who are checked into storm shelters so that they can be located, or tracking mass triage and casualties so that from the incident site, where they have been transported can be tracked.
- Personnel - We can provide people, boots on the ground, to deploy barricades and report on local conditions in the area while mobile
Essentially we are an infrastructure that is made available so that public safety and other organizations that will be well burdened during this type of incident, can leverage our channels for more ‘out of band’ types of communications that they may not be able to effect with their existing systems.
We serve the community on a volunteer basis and hold training and informational sessions for our membership over the course of the year. One of the popular things we provide as a means of practice in traffic handling and coordination is radio support for large events such as marathons or charity bicycle rides that cover large areas across the state. We can quickly locate and report back any participants that may need assistance, general health and welfare sort of traffic. In large events with many hundreds of participants, this is very useful.