Public Service

The Amateur Radio Operator's Role in Emergency Communications

Public service has been a traditional component of the Amateur Radio service since 1913. Amateurs at the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University, in conjunction with other individual operators in and around the region, successfully bridged the communications gap created by a severe windstorm in the Midwest. At that time, disaster support work was not very organized and was performed spontaneously at best. Today that scenario has transformed into one of a structured organization with mutual support from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and National Traffic System (NTS). Today's ARES® members provide needed communications assistance to their communities during a natural or other disaster, but it doesn't stop there. They also may be engaged for public service events - parades, marathons, etc.

Who Receives The Benefits Of Our Volunteer Service?

Emergencies and disasters can strike at any time, causing injury, death and economic loss. As our communities become larger, more diverse, and interrelated, the numbers and types of potential disasters increase, with outcomes that impact our social, political, and technological systems.

Generally the obligation to respond to emergencies falls to local government. But what happens when the capacity of local, state, or even national government becomes overwhelmed by the magnitude of an emergency or a disaster?

There is an eventual saturation point where government is unable to protect and aid its citizens, especially when those governments are constrained by lack of funds, personnel, and equipment. It is at that point when ARES® may be asked to help with communications to help in the orderly conduct of government business that benefits all in the impacted area. Such requests can be made by virtually every public agency to include local emergency management, police, fire, hospitals, quasi-government organizations like the American Red Cross and its subcontractors, and private and religious groups, and business corporations.

ARES® provides supplemental disaster communications for the Licking County Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Licking County Emergency Management Agency, and to public safety organizations and communications for other groups for their special events. ARES®, which has developed since 1935, is a part of the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) Field Organization.

ARES® can have several functions depending on a community's or area's needs. ARES® groups can provide checkpoint communications for events such as parades and marathons, or run special event stations for special town events such as festivals and large gatherings.

In times of disaster, ARES® can provide communications in many situations. For example, amateur radio operators can provide point to point communications between shelters, assist in recovery efforts, provide weather reports in weather disasters via the National Weather Service ARES® SKYWARN program, and send messages where normal communications have failed via the National Traffic System.

ARES® groups can be very small, tight-knit groups, to large groups encompassing up to 100 or 200 ham operators. It depends on how large of an area and how active the ham operators are in a given area.

We hope you make good use of this site. It will make your ARES® experience more valuable to all.

Join Our Local Team

Licking County ARES is open to any Amateur Radio operator who lives in Licking County, Ohio. If you are interested is joining this growing organization simply fill out our online application or download a copy and send it to

Online Application