The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is a volunteer radio communications service available to Federal, state, county and local governments, as well as non-profit organizations.
More than 700,000 U.S. radio operators are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. Amateur Radio is not Citizen's Band (CB) radio.
More than 35,000 amateurs nationwide have voluntarily registered their services and formed an organized pool of operators to provide reliable primary and secondary communications links for governmental agencies and/or non-profit organizations when needed. Communications provided may be in the form of voice, radioteletype, television, computer modes or even Morse code. Handheld amateur radio equipment has a range that varies from next door to the next county or state.
Services are provided on a strictly volunteer basis at no charge. Federal Communications Commission rules strictly prohibit compensation of any kind for services rendered by amateur radio operators.
Amateur radio can be a primary or secondary communications link. Amateur radio operators realize that their role is to provide communications - not to make decisions. The County ARES Emergency Coordinator might be considered your volunteer communications consultant.
Amateur radio operators have provided communications during hurricanes, brush fires in California, tornadoes in the Midwest and earthquakes. Amateur radio has been used for more than two decades as the primary communications link for the New York City Marathon. Amateur radio has a proud tradition of serving the public since 1917.