ARES groups are volunteer
operators who come together for the common purpose
of providing emergency and/or auxiliary communications service to
public safety and public service organizations. Most individual ARES
units are autonomous and operate locally. Although the Amateur Radio
Emergency Service is a program (and trademark) of the
American Radio Relay League
(ARRL) in the USA, the structure is
more supportive than directive in nature, providing mostly for
mutual aid in the event of large-scale emergencies. As long as local
units are operating in the best interests of Amateur Radio in
general and the ARRL in particular, intervention from the national
organization is minimal. The government expresses little governance
of ARES (other than the FCC regulations--47 CFR Part 97-- which
regulate all of Amateur Radio) and local authorities only passively
regulate ARES groups by way of formal understandings.
ARES groups are generally organized by city or county and are made
up of volunteers from the local area. The only requirements to join
ARES are a willingness to serve and a valid
amateur radio license.
Groups are organized locally by the person holding the position
of Emergency Coordinator (EC). The EC maintains full
responsibility for organizing the local groups and serving as their
leader during operations. The EC is an
RAC member, and is generally the point of contact for those
wishing to perform Emergency Communications in their local area.
He/She may appoint one or several AECs (Assistant Emergency
Coordinator) to oversee certain geographical areas, or he/she may
appoint by function such as the
SKYWARN severe weather spotting network, Net Managing, Training
Direction, or Public Information, or maybe a mix of the above (i.e.
whatever works locally). Some members may be appointed as Official
Emergency Stations and are trained to serve specific duties such as
being a net controller during emergencies.
The next higher level of coordination is the optional District
Emergency Coordinator (DEC). This person coordinates the operation
of several local county or city ARES groups and reports to the
Section Emergency Coordinator in those sections where the span of
control would otherwise be too large. A DEC may have one or more
Assistant District Emergency Coordinators serving him or her.
Leading the structure is the
Section Emergency Coordinator, or SEC. This person is appointed
by the elected
Section Manager and is responsible for emergency communications
in his/her section. An SEC may have one or more Assistant DECs
serving to assist him/her. In the U.S., a Section is one of 71
geographic administrative areas of the ARRL. It is either a state or
in more densely populated areas of the U.S., a portion of a state.
In Canada, the ARES is coordinated overall by the
Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) Field Services Organization which
has eight (8) Sections: Alberta, British Columbia/Yukon, Manitoba,
Maritimes (consisting of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New
Brunswick), Newfoundland/Labrador, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan.
As is the case in the U.S., each Section is managed by an elected
In Canada, the ARES logo is a registered trademark of the Radio
Amateurs of Canada Inc.(RAC).