ARES is a field organization of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the largest amateur radio advocacy and fraternal organization in the United States. Today, at a national level ARES provides the organization and guidance to help amateur radio operators to establish local emergency communications volunteer groups. ARES Emergency Coordinators work with local government agencies such as police, fire, sheriff, search and rescue and offices of emergency management to determine what emergency communications needs may exist and how to best serve the community.
Florida ARES is divided into 3 Sections North Florida, West Central Florida and South Florida. The North Florida Section is divided into 11 Districts (see map on left); not all regions and districts are active. Each active region and district has an Emergency Coordinator who works to understand the local community’s needs, and organizes resources to maintain a level of emergency preparedness and communications readiness for that community.
Website: Hillsborough County’s ARES RACES
Although the primary purpose of ARES is to provide emergency communications, ARES members are also routinely asked to provide non-business communications support at public events such as parades, marathons and bike rides.
Emergency service is one of the basics of the Amateur Radio Service and there is sometimes confusion about ARES, the ARRL arm of emergency services and RACES, the government arm of amateur emergency services. Many organizations, like us, combine the two and just switch hats if the need arises.
ARES is activated before, during and after an emergency by request of the local Emergency Managers. Generally, ARES handles emergency messages, including those between government emergency management officials. ARES also interacts with the local communities during non-emergency times and may provide communications support for parades, runs and other community activities.