Public Service Communications Manual Foreword
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 surrounding a large isolated area left by a severe windstorm in the Midwest. In those early days, such disaster work was spontaneous and without previous organization of any kind. In today's Amateur Radio, disaster work is a highly organized and worthwhile part of day-to-day operation, implemented principally through the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and the National Traffic System (NTS), both sponsored by ARRL. 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.
A subpart of the US amateur regulations (Part 97, Subpart E) provides for the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. RACES is a special phase of amateur operation sponsored by local emergency management agencies with support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and applies to US amateurs only. The primary purpose of RACES is to provide amateurs with a special opportunity to serve governmental civil preparedness agencies. ARRL has signed a memorandum of understanding with FEMA to enhance the coordination of ARRL and FEMA resources.
This edition of the Public Service Communications Manual constitutes an overall source of basic information on the League's public service communications program. The appendices will provide the reader with additional operational details that are not covered in the rest of the booklet.
Thanks go to Rob Griffin, AB6YR, Santa Barbara Section Manager and the section's former Section Traffic Manager, and especially Bill Thompson, W2MTA, Western New York Section Manager, for their efforts in making this 1996 edition of the PSCM an accurate source of guidance for both the new and experienced public service communicator.