CCAR Membership

We encourage you to apply for membership! You will find an on-line application via the "ARRL volunteer website". You will be redirected to the "ARES Connect Eastern Pennsylvania" page. Select the "Create Account" link on the upper right side of the page. Note only fields marked with an "*" are required. NOTE: You do NOT need to be a member of the ARRL in order to request and use an ARES Connect account.

Who We Are

CCAR is an all-volunteer auxiliary communications unit that is organized under the Chester County Department of Emergency Services (CCDES). Though we operate like a volunteer fire company, CCAR is not an entity on its own. Rather, each volunteer member registers their training certifications, contact information, capabilities and equipment with the CCDES and obtains a CCDES picture ID card and credential. Each member voluntarily serves at the pleasure of CCDES management. Chester County is the sponsor of all CCAR activities. There are no membership dues. Members provide public service and emergency communications services when activated by CCDES. They train to be effective in this role.

Besides being a registered volunteer of CCDES, all CCAR members are also simultaneously members of ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) and RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service), for legal and operational flexibility. Some members may also simultaneously hold MARS (Military Affiliate Radio System) and CAP (Civil Air Patrol) membership to allow additional operational capability.

ARES is a field organization of the American Radio Relay League, Inc. (ARRL), the national society for amateur radio. Members participate in ARES community service events, which are generally sponsored by charitable fund raising organizations, and are considered part of CCAR operational training. The ARRL also brings additional training and organizational benefits.

RACES is created in FCC regulations and provides the structure for FCC-licensed operators in the Amateur Radio Service to function on behalf of government entities. As stated in FCC Regulations [Part 97.407], a participating amateur station is required to be "certified by a civil defense organization and enrolled in that organization." When your membership application is accepted and you register your information as a CCAR member on this web site, you are also listed on the RACES roster of the Chester County Department of Emergency Services, the civil defense organization of Chester County, PA. Deployments of CCAR members by CCDES are under the RACES rules, as are training exercises organized by CCDES or other government entities.

Membership Requirements

  • You must hold a valid FCC Amateur Radio License. Class of the license will determine your operating assignments to some extent, but is otherwise not important.
  • You must live in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Note: We will accept volunteers from other Counties for specific events, as long as you have an active ARES Connect account and maintain your credentials with your home County's Emergency Coordinator.
  • You must declare any active commitments you may have to other first responder, disaster relief agencies, or similar organizations.
  • You agree to maintain current information about you (not made public) on this system under "My account."
  • You pledge to meet participation expectations.
  • You commit to obtaining certificates for minimum training requirements and supplying copies of them to CCAR.
  • You pledge to make yourself reasonably available to respond to emergency deployments and to fulfill the CCAR Mission Statement.

Training Requirements

Experienced emergency communicators know that casual amateur radio operating skills and knowledge are not enough in the post-9/11 emergency management environment. We encourage continuous member improvement through regular participation, formal training, self-study, and practice. This is necessary to function effectively and to maintain the respect of our government sponsors and served agencies. More recently, certain formal training certifications are required of all emergency responders, including volunteers, by the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the US Department of Homeland Security. To be deployed by CCDES into service during declared emergencies and disasters, members must hold appropriate credentials granted by CCDES that reflect NIMS requirements. Members-in-training participate in training exercises and public service events. You will find the training process to be enjoyable.

Meeting the minimum training requirements is relatively easy, and can be earned at your own pace at low or no cost by passing short online or classroom courses. Detailed information on the training requirements and course opportunities are on the training page.

Participation Expectations

In order to maintain an informed, prepared and effective volunteer unit, we expect CCAR members to participate in at least one activity each month. These include public service events, scheduled exercises, Tech Rallies, quarterly meetings, training sessions, and the weekly on-air net. Participation provides the member information, familiarity and skill development that minimizes confusion and maximizes effectiveness during real emergencies. We operate and train as a team, and knowing your teammates is very important.

You use ARES Connect to register for all CCAR activities, and to report your volunteer hours for those activities. This is very important as it demonstrates the tremendous value of amateur radio volunteers to our served agency, as well as to State and Federal officials.

Weekly Nets

All licensed amateur operators are invited to participate in CCAR voice nets each Thursday at 7:30 PM local time on the W3EOC FM repeater system (D-Star is not yet included). The nets include valuable circuit checks between members and the Net Control Station (NCS), practice of tactical net protocol and formal message handling, and usually some element of training wisdom. We broadcast news and reminders of calendar events, and leaders detail their plans for event participants. Sometimes mini-drills are held on the air. Typical duration of a net is 30-45 minutes.

CCAR also operates a "digital" net after the weekly Voice Net. This digital net focuses on the use of the Fldigi suite of tools for sneding and receiving messages via the Narrowband Emergency Messaging System (NBEMS). Operators should have a computer, the fldigi software installed (see website), and an audio interface to your VHF/UHF radio.

Quarterly General Meetings

January, April, July and October, on the last Monday of the month at 7:00 PM, CCAR holds a general meeting with agenda of interest to all members and prospective members. These meetings are normally held in Room 042 at the Government Services Center in West Chester.

Tech Rallies

We hold a "Tech Rally" on the second Saturday of each month at 8:30 AM in the RACES radio room (Room 026) at the Government Services Center in West Chester. This provides an informal opportunity to participate in special projects, training exercises, maintenance, seminars, obtain hands-on training and equipment familiarity, and enjoy CCAR camaraderie. The agenda varies, but is always of interest, purposeful, and fun.

CCAR Staff

Should you have in interest in leadership and helping CCAR accomplish its goals, you will find a place on the CCAR staff. The Emergency Coordinator appoints members according to their continuing contributions. The Staff plans the direction and goals of CCAR, and more importantly, executes projects towards those goals. Pre-scheduled leadership meetings are open to all members and participation is encouraged.

Information last updated: July 2019.