Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service
Amateur Radio has a long and honored tradition of providing communications during special events and in times of emergency. This is in keeping with the first of the stated purposes of the Amateur Radio Service found in the FCC rules:
§97.1(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communications service, particularly with respect to providing emergency service.
The Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service exists to provide emergency communications via Amateur Radio, when regular communication systems are overloaded or fail.
Our primary mission is to link our Served Agencies to the Washoe County Regional Emergency Operations Center, and to provide links between other critical facilities, including hospitals, other emergency management and support agencies, and various field locations. Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service also provides communications links out of Washoe County, including links to the Nevada State Emergency Operations Center in Carson City.
In the event of a disaster, Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members perform a number of tasks, including:
Emergency and Supplemental Communications: During emergencies, such as earthquakes or extended power-outages, cellular telephone, Internet and fax systems can fail and and public service radio channels can rapidly become saturated. Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members are capable of providing back-up radio communications, with many additional channels, and using radio, instead of phone lines, to transmit email-like messages and other computer data.
Inter-Agency Communications: Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members can be assigned to "shadow" key agency personnel to provide inter-agency communications when normal channels are not available. Because of the special frequency and power-output privileges Radio Amateurs have, direct links can be established with locations out of range of normal agency radios, such as the State Emergency Operations Center or FEMA in Washington, D.C.
Health and Welfare Information: Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members can collect and transmit Health and Welfare messages to the American Red Cross (ARC) and to out-of-area family members on behalf of emergency workers and people in the community, freeing emergency personnel and disaster workers to concentrate on priority matters.
Simulated Emergency Tests: To maintain operator skill and to develop working relationships with our Served Agencies, Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members participate in various disaster drills, exercises, and other related activities.
Public Service Events: In non-emergencies, Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members provide supplemental communications for various public service events such as parades, marathons, walk-a-thons, and bicycle races.
About the Amateur Radio Emergency Service®
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) is a field organization of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and consists of licensed Amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. ARES was formed to provide better coordination of Amateur communications during emergencies, and to provide a pool of trained and disciplined Amateur operators who are ready and able to serve in times of emergency.
Every licensed Radio Amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible for membership in ARES. The only qualification, other than possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve.
About the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service
The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), administered by local, county and state emergency management agencies and supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is a part of the Amateur Radio Service which provides radio communications for civil-defense purposes, during periods of local, regional or national civil emergencies.
RACES was organized during the Cold War, to meet a potential need during an enemy attack. Having never been called upon for that purpose, RACES has since evolved to encompass all types of civil emergencies, including natural disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe winter storms.
RACES operation is strictly controlled, and limited to official civil defense activity authorized by emergency management officials. Amateurs operating in RACES must be officially registered with the served civil defense organization. For this purpose, Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members are registered with Washoe County Emergency Management. Although RACES and ARES are separate entities, this dual membership allows Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service members to "switch hats" as necessary, with no interruption of service.
For more information regarding Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service and how you can become a part of this dynamic organization, please visit the Contact Us page or write to us at :
Washoe County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Inc. P.O. BOX 13083 Reno, Nevada 89507.