Affiliations & Associations

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.

There are four levels of ARES organization--national, section, district and local. National emergency coordination at ARRL Headquarters is under the supervision of the ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager, who is responsible for advising all ARES officials regarding their problems, maintaining contact with federal government and other national officials concerned with amateur emergency communications potential, and in general with carrying out the League's policies regarding emergency communications.
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The purposes of the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society (ARLHS) are to promote public awareness of both ham radio and lighthouses, preserving light beacons that are endanger of extinction, and paying tribute to the role that hams and lighthouse keepers have played in contributing to maritime safety. 
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ARRL is the national membership association for Amateur Radio operators.

Hiram Percy Maxim, a leading Hartford, Connecticut inventor and industrialist saw the need for an organization to band together this fledgling group of radio experimenters. In May 1914 he founded the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) to meet that need.

Today ARRL, with approximately 152,000 members, is the largest organization of radio amateurs in the United States. The ARRL is a not-for-profit organization that:

* promotes interest in Amateur Radio communications and experimentation

* represents US radio amateurs in legislative matters, and

* maintains fraternalism and a high standard of conduct among Amateur Radio operators. 

At ARRL headquarters in the Hartford suburb of Newington, a staff of 120 helps serve the needs of members. ARRL is also International Secretariat for the International Amateur Radio Union, which is made up of similar societies in 150 countries around the world.

ARRL publishes the monthly journal QST, as well as newsletters and many publications covering all aspects of Amateur Radio. Its headquarters station, W1AW, transmits bulletins of interest to radio amateurs and Morse code practice sessions. The ARRL also coordinates an extensive field organization, which includes volunteers who provide technical information for radio amateurs and public-service activities. In addition, ARRL represents US amateurs with the Federal Communications Commission and other government agencies in the US and abroad. 

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The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

The CERT course will benefit any citizen who takes it. This individual will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster. Additionally, if a community wants to supplement its response capability after a disaster, civilians can be recruited and trained as neighborhood, business, and government teams that, in essence, will be auxiliary responders. These groups can provide immediate assistance to victims in their area, organize spontaneous volunteers who have not had the training, and collect disaster intelligence that will assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster. Since 1993 when this training was made available nationally by FEMA, communities in 28 States and Puerto Rico have conducted CERT training.

CERT is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens will be initially on their own and their actions can make a difference. Through training, citizens can manage utilities and put out small fires; treat the three killers by opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating for shock; provide basic medical aid; search for and rescue victims safely; and organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective.

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ESF-2 is the acronym for Emergency Support Function 2 (Communications). ESF-2 is outlined in the National Response Plan (a Department of Homeland Security document) as being responsible for:

1. Coordination with telecommunications industry
2. Restoration/repair of telecommunications infrastructure, and
3. Protection, restoration, and sustainment of national cyber and information technology resources.

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FISTS is a well established and recognized CW organization in the world of amateur radio. Founded in 1987 by Geo Longden, G3ZQS, it now has a membership in the thousands, is world-wide, and growing daily.
What FISTS wants to accomplish

1. To further the use of CW on the amateur bands.
2. To encourage newcomers to the CW mode.
3. To engender friendship within the membership.

Created in 1964 by Geoff Watts, a leading English short wave listener, and taken on by the RSGB in 1985, IOTA is an amateur radio activity program designed to encourage contacts with island stations worldwide. The oceans' islands have been grouped into 1,200 IOTA groups with, for reasons of geography, varying numbers of "counters", or qualifying islands, in each. The objective, for the island chaser, is to make radio contact with at least one counter in as many of these groups as possible and, for the DXpeditioner, to provide such island contacts. For both it is a fun pastime adding much enjoyment to on the on air activity. Among its estimated 15-20,000 followers IOTA has become for a very large number a favorite, highly regarded and absorbing activity program.
18 separate certificates, graded in difficulty, are currently available for island chasers, as well as two prestigious awards for high achievement. They may be claimed by any licensed radio amateur eligible under the General Rules, who can produce evidence of having made two-way communication, since November 15, 1945, with the required number of amateur radio stations located in the IOTA groups specified for the award. Many of the islands/IOTA groups are DXCC countries in their own right; others are not, but by meeting particular eligibility criteria also count for credit. Part of the fun of IOTA is that it is an evolving program with new IOTA groups amongst the 1,200 listed being activated for the first time.

The basic award is for working stations located in 100 IOTA groups. There are higher achievement awards for working 200, 300 and so on groups, in multiples of 100, up to 700. In addition there are seven continental awards (including Antarctica) and three regional awards - Arctic Islands, British Isles and West Indies - for contacting a specified number of IOTA groups listed in each area. The IOTA World-wide diploma is available for working 50% of the numbered groups in each of the seven continents. A Plaque of Excellence is available for confirmed contacts with at least 750 IOTA groups with Shields for every 25 additional ones. The latest addition to the range is a 1,000 Islands Trophy, also with additional Shields.

MARS is a Department of Defense sponsored program, established as a separately managed and operated program by the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The program consists of licensed amateur radio operators who are interested in military communications on a local, national, and international basis as an adjunct to normal communications.

MARS has a long and proud history of providing world-wide auxiliary emergency communications during times of need. The combined three service MARS programs (Army, Air Force, and Navy-Marine Corps) volunteer force of over 5,000 dedicated and skilled amateur radio operators is the backbone of the MARS program. The benefit of MARS membership is enjoying an amateur radio hobby through the ever-expanding horizon of MARS. Our affiliate members' continued unselfish support of our mission keeps Army MARS Proud, Professional, and Ready.

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Founded in 1952, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is a public service provided by a reserve (volunteer) communications group within government agencies in times of extraordinary need. During periods of RACES activation, certified unpaid personnel are called upon to perform many tasks for the government agencies they serve. Although the exact nature of each activation will be different, the common thread is communications. RACES is a function of the civil defense agency's Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), sometimes known as DCS (Disaster Communications Service), ECS (Emergency Communications Service), ARPSC (Amateur Radio Public Service Corps), etc.

Traditional RACES operations involve emergency message handling on Amateur Radio Service frequencies. These operations typically involve messages between critical locations such as hospitals, emergency services, emergency shelters, and any other locations where communication is needed. These communications are handled in any mode available, with 2 meters FM being the most prevalent. During time of war, when the President exercises his War Emergency Powers, RACES might become the only communications allowed via amateur radio, using specific amateur frequencies set aside for wartime RACES use. ACS provides greater flexibility than RACES for non-wartime emergencies, on any amateur frequency designated in the local, county, or state ACS (or RACES) plan. Activating under the FCC's restrictive RACES Rules is not always necessary when using Amateur Radio Service frequencies for emergency communications. For example, ACS communicators may need to communicate with ARES or other radio amateurs who are not government-certified to operate in a RACES net. ACS personnel also might become involved in non-amateur public-safety or other government communications, Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staffing, and emergency equipment repair.

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SKYWARN is a concept developed in the early 1970s that was intended to promote a cooperative effort between the National Weather Service and communities. The emphasis of the effort is often focused on the storm spotter, an individual who takes a position near their community and reports wind gusts, hail size, rainfall, and cloud formations that could signal a developing tornado. Another part of SKYWARN is the receipt and effective distribution of National Weather Service information.

The organization of spotters and the distribution of warning information may lies with the National Weather Service or with an emergency management agency within the community. This agency could be a police or fire department, or often is an emergency management/service group (what people might still think of as civil defense groups). This varies across the country however, with local national weather service offices taking the lead in some locations, while emergency management takes the lead in other areas.

SKYWARN is not a club or organization, however, in some areas where Emergency Management programs do not perform the function, people have organized SKYWARN groups that work independent of a parent government agency and feed valuable information to the National Weather Service. While this provides the radar meteorologist with much needed input, the circuit is not complete if the information does not reach those who can activate sirens or local broadcast systems.
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The United States Islands Awards Program, USI, covers saltwater and inland fresh water river or lake islands of the fifty (50) states of the United States. USI was formed to further enhance "island chasing" that has become so popular on the amateur radio bands. The USI goal is to promote a simple but effective system of state-island collecting in a professional radio-manner and to operate totally on the "honor system". USI warmly welcomes all island enthusiasts to yet another facet of island collecting. USI is open to anyone (Ham or SWL) interested in United States Island collecting.