Amateur, or “ham” radio, plays an important role in emergency communications. During states of emergency or disaster, traditional telephone, cellular, radio or internet systems may become overloaded or damaged. Ham radio operators have access to radio frequencies and networks that inherently operate well in emergencies.
The Arizona State Emergency Operations Center is equipped with several amateur radios, with both voice and data capability.
All communications team members hold amateur radio licenses.
Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is a standby radio service provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and regulations governing amateur radio in the United States. RACES participants must hold a current amateur radio license.
The Director of the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs is empowered to request the use of available volunteer communications facilities and personnel. The Communications Supervisor may notify the State RACES Officer and request activation of RACES upon determination of an emergency condition or a threat to life, property and the environment.
During a statewide emergency, RACES volunteers at the State EOC may use amateur radios to communicate with other RACES members within the state, although interstate radio traffic may be handled as well. The use of repeaters will be determined by the location of the emergency and the discretion of the State RACES Officer.