The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) provides volunteer emergency communications services to governmental agencies such as local and state emergency managers and agencies that are under their jurisdiction.
EARS/RACES is capable of communications world wide, nation wide, or within the local county or city. On a local level, we usually have far more repeaters available to us than most local government agencies. By shifting health and welfare, along with other non-critical communications to EARS, you free up “first responders” resources. In times of major events, amateur radio can handle the overload of primary traffic and assist when public service repeaters or other equipment fail. With recent shifts by government agencies to “Trunking Systems” for communications, an overload in times of a major disaster is almost assured. EARS also has access to digital communications systems throughout the Commonwealth, that allow for sending of text messages over a system that is not tied to any wired system. This “Winlink system” provides for a more secure and error free method of communications that will not allow people listening on scanners to intercept messages because they are compressed digital messages rather than voice.
If EOCs are equipped with a Ham radio station, they have the ability to communicate with volunteer agencies as they arrive on the scene as well as communicate with their own local resources. Amateur Radio has been referred to by retired CBS news anchor, Walter Cronkite as “The only fail proof communications system in times of disaster." This is because Hams have many modes and massive frequency selections available to them. In many cases their system is set up after impact in disaster. They are well trained and are constantly upgrading their skills to serve you in times of need. They rely on backup equipment and non commercial power sources to insure they will be “On the air”, when needed.
Best of all, this service is free, Hams cannot and do not accept any money for their services. In times of tight budgets, this is a great resource that should never be overlooked by local or state officials.