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RACES vs. ARES.....

Discussion in 'Discussions, Opinions & Editorials' started by AE6JM, Apr 27, 2010.

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  1. AE6JM

    AE6JM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm watching a situation in which the Riverside County, California RACES organization is
    apparently being threatened by a new ARES group, "Riverside County ARES", that is rapidly growing in the low desert area.

    Emails are going out from county officials "demanding" information about the organization and stating that "all such organizations must be coordinated and operate under the County umbrella".

    I remember a ham, with his accompanying halitosis, scream in my face that the RACES group has jurisdiction over "ALL" emergency communications in the county, and stating "IT'S THE LAW"!! Naturally, no such law exists, nor could it.

    When the local Salvation Army SATERN group began in the area, they were paid a visit by RACES members, telling them that they could not operate in an emergency, so they must join RACES, and abandon SATERN.

    This is a far cry from the recent Mexicali Earthquake activity in which the local RACES group, ARES, SATERN, Red Cross, and Mexican Hams all worked together. In the words of that great philosopher Rodney King, "Can't we all get along?"

    Emails and anger are flying back and forth!
  2. N2RJ

    N2RJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's what you call a whackeriffic fight!

    ARES is an ARRL organization run by the ARRL field organization.

    RACES is a civil defense protocol recognized by the Federal Govt. A RACES organization has to have a club license and certified by a civil defense organization (47cfr97.407)

    RACES and ARES are often the same people but often they are not.

    I don't see WHY they should be fighting and WHAT they are fighting for.
  3. W4AFB

    W4AFB Guest

    Break out the orange vests and the H/T's for a fun filled whacker fest!
  4. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Subscriber QRZ Page

    The roles of RACES and ARES are clearly defined in San Diego county, and the 2 entities get along quite well. No squabbling whatsoever, and, in fact, dual membership is encouraged when possible.

    RACES takes care of Official police and Fire comms. Very strict criteria and training required, very formalized and a chain of command that must be adhered to. They are sponsored by the Sherriffs dept and work out of the main EOC for the County.

    ARES does Hospital Emcomm, SATERN. and, sometimes, Red Cross, though they pretty well have their own Hams and comms. Health and Welfare, Churches, and NON- Governmental agenicies except for CAL FIRE, which they Serve. They have an EOC in the CAL FIRE Station at Rancho San Diego, and also work out of the EMS EOC up in Grantville.

    SO no problems here. Everyone works in complete harmony and peace, cross helping where needed, especially at the Miramar Air Show.

    Must be an Ego deal up there in the Inland Empire.
  5. NA4BH

    NA4BH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Same here. Our group works very well together and we get along with all local agencies. All members are NIMS compliant and then some. The local organization is frequently featured in QST. Check out May 2010 QST page 13 (lower left).
  6. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yep, and that's the way it ought to be, in my humble opinion.

    The RACES rules have changed dramatically. There are no RACES licenses anymore, and RACES personnel operating on the ham bands must have ham tickets. In the past, that was not the case. Indeed, when I was involved in RACES in San Jose, the public safety dispatchers and hams were all cross-trained, so in a disaster they could do each other's jobs. I'm aware of one major county here where that is still done.

    When I was in RACES we met every week, and we drilled a lot. We all had city ID cards so we could get into the EOC. It was a pretty small but very dedicated group.

    This sounds like a big misunderstanding to me.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2010
  7. NE3R

    NE3R Ham Member QRZ Page

    Pretty much the same here in my area. Although when I'm on the statewide monthly RACES drill, I feel like these guys couldn't pass traffic to save their lives, but on the statewide ARES nets, it works so well.

    But to the real issue, RACES, ARES, SATERN, etc. are pointless without 'customers' aka, served entities. In my county, RACES works with the Red Cross and the Hospital, we also do all the walk-a-thons etc. Where RACES provides communications for the EOC & fire department. But then again, we have an ARES station in one fire station, which happens to be where the local radio club meets.

    73 de Joseph Durnal NE3R
  8. K0CMH

    K0CMH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would search the local laws to see if there really is any such thing. I am amazed at what gets passed at the county and city levels -- some of the most crazy stuff. However, in this case, I doubt that any such "law" exists.

    Other than that, I have seen situations where the local public service official wants to keep a tight thumb on their "emcomm" activities. However, this applies to the local government's activities, and I have not seen such an aggressive attituted towards other groups.

    I know of instances where local Hams, who want to control everything and think they can, pull stuff like this. I know of one instance where a local ham club was operating emcomm for a local hospital, and the local ARES guy came in and announced that they were taking over. Well, that went over like a lead ballon, and that particular ARES group so alienated everyone, it had to be broken up and started up from scratch again.
  9. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's a big issue, isn't it?

    I was delighted a week or so ago when I retook the Red Cross Emergency Comms class. The last time I took this class, I was a bit upset over their insistence that ham radio wasn't really needed anymore. That philosophy has obviously changed. They now recognize outside ham groups as they do other VOADs, and more importantly, they recognize that in a disaster where normal communications are disrupted, it may take up to 72 hours before they can get their own comm equipment in place, so they will need to interface with local ham groups. And, after Red Cross doesn't need the hams, other VOADs and the general public might.

    If you haven't already, you can go to and take the three online courses that everybody who will be involved in disasters is being asked to take - ICS100,200 and 700. As you go through it, you will figure out where ham radio fits into the whole picture.

    Yes, more and more we are working in non-emergency situations, but that's what keeps people involved and keeps their gear working. In many cases, it attracts newcomers. Throw in SKYWARN, CERT, S+R, and other groups that utilize ham radio, and there's lots to keep people busy. We should not overlook allied groups like REACT and MARS, either.

    Probably the biggest thing is to be sure that the EOC can find the hams if they are needed. We are useless to them if they can't count on us.
  10. K6TQM

    K6TQM Ham Member QRZ Page

    AE6JM your last sentance is the whole issue. The new ARES group refused to coordinate or cooperate with the existing RACES group in the area. Hopefully that has been resolved. Time will tell. They all must work together.
  11. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good question, Federal grant money? Power? None of it makes any sense to me.
  12. N5PVL

    N5PVL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Maybe they are all just having a stupid contest, and the wiener hasn't been determined yet.

    The ARES folks managed to totally alienate the county government here, so we don't have any kind of ARES problem at all now.
  13. KG4RUL

    KG4RUL Ham Member QRZ Page

    In Berkeley County, SC, ARES is written into the County EAP. But, to achieve maximum effectiveness, almost all ARES members are RACES members.

    We provide shelter communications for ARC and interface with SATERN, MARS and other groups. No conflicts.
  14. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    We have one radio club in the county, and all club members are also ARES members, which makes it a lot easier. We have two EOC's, and both of them are staffed by RACES, though most of the RACES folks are also ARES members. The Radio Club and ARES provide support for lots of public service events, like the Med City Marathon this past weekend and several big bikeathons.

    Public disclosure: I am an ARES official here in Minnesota. My comments are strictly my own and do not reflect the positions of ARES, ARRL or anybody else.
  15. KC8QMU

    KC8QMU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wow..... I'm glad to be smart enough to stay away from folks like that.......

    If I was trying to help local folks out and some idiot came screaming in my face about some BS like that, I'd probably knock him the &^%$ out so hard he'd be in the hospital.... sad to say.......

    All in all, if a disaster happens, I'll be happy to volunteer my radio equipment, but I would also volunteer my chainsaws, pickup truck, and labor....... which would far surpass in usefullness some whacker with an HT.....
  16. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's a pretty good summation. I know when I volunteered to help out during and after a couple of hurricanes in Florida I spent a lot more time and energy cleaning up the mess than I did on the radio. That's the kind of help needed the most, not a bunch of nerds with talkies.
  17. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, I am a RACES member and the problem I see is that anyone call call themselves anything they want - we have a local guy who's got his very own CERT team. Yep, CERT Radio, he's got 3 repeaters [one of them CROSSBAND on full time], and a cadre of new Techs. Right now he seems to be concentrating on working with medical assistance teams.

    Then, our RACES management is not interested in serving a large population of our country because they would not be under RACES control.

    It's going to be a real mess if we ever need these groups to work together.

    There's an old saying:

    "Ve can't all be first violiners in der Orchestra, Some of us have to push de vind thru de Tuba!"

    Everyone wants to be a boss and no one wants to follow.
  18. KC0YEJ

    KC0YEJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    "In this corner, we have the government-sponsored RACES organization! And in THIS corner, we have the ARRL-sponsored ARES group! Yes, it's the fight of the century folks..."

    "The referee is giving the pre-fight briefing... nothing below the belt, no out-of-band operation, callsigns must be said every 10 minutes. The two fighters shake hands... uh oh, looks like they're getting into a hand-squeezing contest out there... you can see the sweat on foreheads..."

    Thankfully, we have only one real organization out in this corner of the state, the ARES group. However, I have little doubt that should the need require and we need to work with a RACES group, we'll be able to do so. We're just not that stickler about protocol when it comes to getting things done... better to work together and succeed than argue and sabotage each other.

    I'm not sure how they do things down in The Big City. Probably have both a RACES and ARES group down there in Kansas City. I'll have to ask around next time I'm at a hamfest.

  19. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    We have no ARES. We have no RACES. We have a few uneducated souls who have aligned themselves with CERT (They are new and keep asking me to program their radios, One the wife of a dear friend who died in February, needs me to go to her house and change memory channels for her.......The radios manual us a scary and mysterious thing for her).

    What we do have and what ALWAYS works is the counties ESDA director will call any Hams that he needs. He is also a Ham and uses some of us for weather spotting, and we have provided communication for the Doggy Walk twice and we carried messages for the shelters back in 2008 when the 120 MPH straight line winds tore through town.
  20. KC7YRA

    KC7YRA Ham Member QRZ Page

    We have no ARES or RACES here and all is well!! There is no squabbling as there are no groups.

    Case dismissed, time for pizza.

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