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RACES – Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

A disaster, such as an earthquake, may disrupt, overload, or extensively damage normal communications systems. In such disasters, auxiliary emergency communications may be utilized to provide a path for the exchange of critical information between decision-making officials for the coordination of local, state, and federal disaster response and recovery actions for the protection and preservation of lives and property. The RACES volunteers registered with the Division of Emergency Management can be called upon to provide this critical service.

Founded in 1952, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is part of the Amateur Radio Service which is a public service.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 97, the Amateur Radio Service, and specifically 97.407, The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service govern RACES as part of the Amateur Radio Service.

RACES volunteers register with a local, county, or state civil defense agency responsible for disaster services. This civil defense agency is typically an emergency services or emergency management organization, (the DEM in Utah), sometimes within another agency such as police or fire. In some areas, RACES may be part of an agency’s Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS).

The importance of RACES operations cannot be stressed enough. The Amateur Radio Regulations, Part 97, Subpart F, was created by the FCC to describe RACES operations in detail.

RACES operations involve emergency message handling on Amateur Radio Service frequencies. These operations typically involve messages between critical locations such as the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) and County or local Emergency Operations Centers. These communications are handled in any mode available, with 2-meter FM being the most prevalent.

Other tasks that RACES volunteers may be involved with may not involve amateur-radio communications. For example, RACES volunteers may be asked to assist with public-safety or other government communications, Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staffing, and emergency communications equipment deployment.

The Utah RACES volunteer group develops and maintains their communications ability by training throughout the year with monthly scheduled nets and special exercises.

To register with the DEM as a volunteer for Utah RACES, please follow this link: http://utahdem.readyop.com/contact/register/4

Download the Utah RACES Information PDF here.