University Amateur Radio Club


Albany County ARES / RACES

Emergency Coordinator (EC): Jim Wilkinson, W9ANM

Assistant Emergency Coordinator (AEC): Mike Sullivan, KF7UZF; E-mail:

Albany County ARES / RACES is composed of volunteer Amateur Radio operators who provide backup emergency communications when other communications systems fail, or are inadequate to handle a specific situation. These have included: Ivinson Hospital internal communication failures, search and rescues, and fires. We also help provide communications for non-emergency community events such as bicycle races or walk-a-thons when our members are available.

We have a wide range of radio frequencies available to us to facilitate communications on a local, regional, or national basis. Our members are self-trained through our use of radio communications as a hobby. This training includes both message handling (a major aspect of our service to other organizations) and our ability to set up our communications facilities at a variety of locations as needed (our annual 'Field Day', the last full weekend in June, helps us to practice this flexibility).

Our ARES / RACES group operates under two sets of rules.

ARES or Amateur Radio Emergency Service is an extremely flexible, non-government group organized under the American Radio Relay League. ARES may operate on all Amateur frequencies, and may do so in any situation compliant with the Federal Communications (FCC) Rules applicable to Amateur Radio. We specifically may not operate directly or indirectly for personal financial gain for ourselves or for other business interests.

Our operations under RACES or Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service is more restricted. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides planning guidance and technical assistance for establishing a RACES organization. The FCC is responsible for the regulation of RACES operations. RACES is administrated by a local, county, or state civil defense agency responsible for disaster services. RACES is a function of the agency's Auxiliary Communications Service, or Disaster (Emergency) Communications Service. Training under FEMA is required for Amateur Radio operators to become members of RACES. When RACES is activated, operations are restricted to designated frequencies, and on the air training may not average more than 1 hour per week. RACES is generally only called on during major regional- or national-scale emergencies, although local call-up is possible.

Albany County ARES / RACES is a relatively small group of about a dozen core members. ARES continually trains its members on subjects such as remote antenna installation, ready bags, message handling, and other aspects of emergency communications. In the event of an emergency, ARES / RACES will also draw on other amateur radio operators in the comminity who are not directly affiliated with ARES / RACES, but who have the capabilities and willingness to assist in times of need.