Amateur radio has a long and proud heritage of helping in times of need and you are continuing the tradition. Thank you for being a generous and community-minded ham who will serve when the situation turns tough. Congratulations, welcome, and thanks for joining our team. You are essential.

The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), and the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) consists of licensed amateur radio operators who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur is eligible for membership. The only qualification, other than an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve. The possession of emergency-powered radio equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement.

However, and especially since 9-11, the days are gone where untrained hams are welcome to participate along with professional responders in emergency incidents. There is a role for everyone with the right attitude and mindset. However, your training, certifications, experience, and your performance in exercises and events will determine the assignments for which you qualify. Therefore, you have some learning to do, and some skills to acquire that go beyond what routine ham radio operation can teach.

Increasingly, emcomm organizations like CCAR are adopting the model of the volunteer fire company. A measure of dedication and commitment is required for our Rapid Response Teams and lead operators. We understand that not everyone can commit to the same level, so, like a volunteer fire organization, there are roles in CCAR for everyone willing to give what they can.


Like a volunteer fire company, a good ARES/RACES organization is all about training. It is what we do—almost all the time—in order to be ready for real incidents.

Emergency communicators with experience know that normal amateur radio operating skills are not enough in an emergency. Developing the right attitude is paramount. Training and certification are necessary to execute our mission and to maintain the respect of our government sponsors and served agencies. The ARRL has set a standard for the training of amateur radio emcomm volunteers with their three-level emergency communications courses and certifications. CCAR has adopted the Level I Emergency Communications Certification as the standard for active member knowledge and skill. Acquiring that certification is your first goal.

Beyond that, we encourage continuous personal improvement through ARRL, PEMA and FEMA on-line training courses, self-study and practice. CCAR maintains an active training program of courses, workshops, nets, seminars, exercises and public service events. The CCAR Training Officer is your contact to learn more about training opportunities.


This book intends to cover only the essentials of the CCAR Emergency Operating Plan and primary information for the field operator. Supplementary reference material, standard operating procedures, and organizational information are set aside for other documents. Consider the material here to be “basic knowledge” needed and expected of all CCAR operators serving the Chester County Department of Emergency Services and the citizens of Chester County.