Your RACES unit and Amateur Radio newsletters are appreciated. They provide valuable ideas and suggestions. For example, the Orange County RACES not only issues a monthly newsletter but has an extensive year end manual. The manual reviews the year, shows goals for the new year, includes the 12 monthly bulletins, discusses mutual aid, a membership and 3x3 callout list. Their 1991 and 1992 manuals were over 90 pages each!!
From a report by Tim Low, N6ZUC:
The following is extracted from the CAP News:
The saddest reports from your letters and comments are those that speak of a unit that wants to serve its community but does not get the opportunity to do so. It happens frequently, so lets review some probable causes.
There is often more than just one reason, so it is likely an interplay between several. Anyone of them can be the main problem; yet solving one may solve others as well.
These weekly BULLETINS appear in most full service packet radio BBS in the U.S. They are technically addressed to RACES @ ALLUS in order to be automatically filed in the bulletin board files sections. As to the topics these contain, they apply equal well to most government emergency communications units whatever their name.
Also during an emergency the OES SITREPS (Situation Reports) and situation summaries addressed to RACES @ ALLCA are sent over the same system for information to all who need the current status on such events as an earthquake, flood, or major wildfire, for example. Numerous fire crews advise they rely on the packet (digital) situation reports in order to keep abreast of events as their ONLY source of information.
Question: Is it true, as some publications say, that "....RACES operation is authorized by the FCC at the request of a state or federal official, and this operation is strictly limited to official civil preparedness activity in the event of an emergency communications situation."?
Response. No. Neither state or federal officials request the FCC to authorize the use of the RACES; and the operation is not so limited as implied.
RACES operation is authorized any time activation is requested by the local or state official with that authority as specified in the jurisdiction's RACES plan.
What the Radio Officer must know
There are certain aspects of the emergency management agency that the Radio Officer needs to KNOW, from experience and on-going participation, otherwise he/she is not in the position of fulfilling that role adequately.
RACES, What's That?
Ever see that question in the eyes of someone who has just heard that term, possibly for the first time?
Well I do, far too often. At State OES there is a constant stream of officials from an agency somewhere around the country. Sometimes the introductory remarks of the staff person that brings them in will include a phrase like "this is our RACES". All too often, I perceive the visitors mental question, "RACES, what's that?". Sometimes it's very obvious and asked out loud. Other times it may remain unvoiced. It is usually accompanied by a slight change in the way their head is held as their "body language" projects that mental question to a phrase that has little or no meaning to that person.
Emergency communications plans, such as those for the ACS/RACES, benefit the adopting jurisdiction as well as adjacent jurisdictions. The adopting jurisdiction specifies the parameters of the service, such as how it is to be used and activated. For adjacent ones it alerts them to the potential communications mutual aid resource that has met with the sponsoring jurisdictions stamp of approval.
In most states such plans involve three levels: state, county (or parish), and municipal (or city). Each is prepared in a spirit of cooperation. They are similar, yet each has its own uniqueness.
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC, formerly Boise Interagency Fire Center) located in Boise, Idaho is a joint venture of the several agencies: USFS (U.S. Forest Service), BLM (Bureau of Land Management), BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs), USFWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), NPS (National Park Service) and NWS (National Weather Service).
In addition to fires it has also been active in floods, earthquakes and other disasters such as Hurricane Andrew, Mount St. Helens volcanic eruption and the Northridge Quake. For the latter the State Office of Emergency Services ordered virtually everything from the Boise radio warehouse - hundreds of portables, repeaters, control stations, fixed links, battery packs and antennas.
CA State OES began the Bulletins in the early 1950's to assist agencies and radio operators to become more familiar with RACES. They were issued periodically until 1985, at which time they began to be issued weekly over voice and digital radio systems of Amateur Radio and in print. Originally intended for California, increased demand, and a 1988 request by the ARRL for national distribution, led to their eventual worldwide distribution.