ARLINGTON, Va. – Katrina, Rita, now Wilma…. As this year’s active hurricane season has shown us, emergency communications are vital during a disaster. That’s why Arlington is looking for new volunteers for its Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES).
“As Hurricane Katrina proved all too well, natural or manmade disasters can knock out phone lines, and leave even cellular networks inoperable at worst, jammed at best,” said David Jordan, Arlington’s RACES officer and the County’s chief information security and privacy officer. “If Arlington County’s emergency communications systems were damaged in a disaster, that’s when RACES volunteers would spring into action.”
As the County's RACES officer, Jordan is charged with identifying, recruiting and training FCC-licensed amateur radio – a.k.a “ham” – operators. RACES volunteers must be willing to:
Become competent in providing auxiliary emergency communications, anytime, anywhere;
Maintain proficiency through continuing education, drills and exercises, and
Serve in their community and perhaps throughout the Commonwealth during emergencies and disasters.
Typical RACES communications involve sending and receiving emergency messages on Amateur Radio Service frequencies between critical government offices, Emergency Operations Centers (state, county, local) and other locations such as hospitals, emergency services, emergency shelters and other locations where communication is needed.
FCC-licensed amateur radio operators, who are interested in learning more about volunteering, please contact Jordan at (703) 228-3185.
Volunteers require sufficient time to complete the necessary training and obtain suitable equipment for field deployment (if required). They also will be required to successfully pass the standard County background check including finger printing.