Public service communications have been a traditional responsibility of the Amateur Radio Service since 1913, when amateurs at the University of Michigan and Ohio State University, in conjunction with numerous individual amateurs in and around the region, successfully bridged the communications gap left by a severe windstorm in a large isolated area of the Midwest.
In those early days, such disaster work was spontaneous and without previous organization of any kind. In today’s Amateur Radio activities, disaster work is a highly organized and worthwhile part of day-to-day operation. It is implemented principally through the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and the National Traffic System (NTS), both sponsored by the American Radio Relay League.
The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), independent nets and other amateur public service groups are also a part of ARRL-recognized Amateur Radio public service efforts.
The ARES now consists of approximately 80,000 licensed amateurs who have registered their availability for emergency operation in the public interest. The operational leadership of ARES consists of approximately 2500 local and district emergency coordinators, along with the section ECs. NTS operates daily to handle local, medium and long-distance written traffic in standard ARRL format. NTS consists of nets at four levels, with lines of liaison connecting them for the systematic flow of message traffic from point of origin to point of delivery in the shortest possible time consistent with organizational training objectives and mass handlings.
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible for membership in the ARES. The only qualification, other than possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve. Because ARES is an amateur service, only amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership. For more information on joining Davidson County ARES or participating in services that we may provide, please contact the Davidson County EC