The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) was established under the Federal Communications Commission Rules and Regulations, as part of the amateur radio service. The mission of RACES is to establish and maintain the leadership and organizational infrastructure necessary to provide amateur radio communications in support of emergency management entities throughout the United States and its territories.
RACES is employed during a variety of emergency/disaster situations where normal governmental communications systems have sustained damage or when additional communications are required or desired. Situations that RACES can be used include: natural disasters, technological disasters, civil disorder, nuclear/chemical incidents, acts of terrorism or enemy attack.
In 2007, the Emergency Management Division, under the direction of then Chief of Emergency Management John Conover, re-established the relationship between the division and the amateur radio community. Letters were sent to all licensed amateur radio operators in the county expressing the desire to resurrect our RACES. After a period of reorganization, Chuck Hodell, N8ADN, was appointed the RACES Officer for the County and Mike Widdekind, N3ZHA the Assistant RACES Officer.
Since that time, we have been successful in recruiting and maintaining almost two dozen active RACES members with more joining our ranks and obtaining the necessary licenses to perform this critical function for emergency management. Members of the Emergency Management Division and the Queen Anne's County Health Department have even become licensed amateur operators. RACES members have taken training in the National Incident Management system (NIMS) and participate regularly in MEMA statewide communications exercises (COMMEX) to refine their emergency communications skills.
Your Queen Anne’s County RACES members have been busy. Beginning in December with the snow, RACES members held hourly nets to collect snowfall data for the Emergency Management Division of the Department of Emergency Services. This data was provided to the EOC staffed by Chief Aftung and Lt. Stoner among others. The data was forwarded to MEMA and the NWS.
RACES got a breather, but not for long when historical back to back blizzards threatened our area in February. Your RACES members once again stepped to the plate and made offers of assistance to the EOC and County citizens. Early on, it was determined that conditions were deteriorating fast enough that it was not safe to accept offers of their 4-wheel drive vehicles. What they did do yet again is hold their hourly nets to gather snowfall data for the EOC. Among other uses, the data was included in operational briefings sent to MEMA and the County Commissioners every 12 hours with EOC shift changes. A total of 16 amateur radio operators, some from outside Queen Anne’s RACES including the State of Maryland’s RACES officer participated in these nets.
On March 8, 2010 at the regular RACES meeting, presented to the members were certificates of appreciation which read:
In deep appreciation of your selfless service to your fellow citizens, the Emergency Management Division and Queen Anne’s County RACES during the back to back blizzards of February 2010. Through your actions, QAC-RACES continues to prove itself as one of the finest and most active RACES programs in the State of Maryland. Presented March 9, 2010
RACES members receiving their awards from Chief Kevin Aftung of the Emergency Management Division of QACDES
Members continue their commitment to the citizens of Queen Anne’s County and RACES. In May, a National Weather Service SKYWARN class was offered here in Queen Anne’s County where 26 persons, mostly your RACES members, took training in observing and reporting various types of severe weather to the NWS. All successfully completed the class and subsequently received their SKYWARN Spotter ID numbers.
June marked the beginning of hurricane season and your RACES members were busy checking their gear and supplies in case they are needed to support operations for any adverse weather that may strike this season. The second Tuesday of each month from October through May, MEMA sponsors monthly communications exercises where RACES hones their mission critical skills. Marking the end of the exercise season, and in recognition of their service to others, QAC RACES members were hosted by QAC RACES Officer Chuck Hodell to a dinner at a local Queen Anne’s County restaurant. The dinner was also attended by the State of Maryland RACES officer.
Pictured are RACES members that were able to participate in the appreciation dinner. Maryland State RACES Officer Al FitzSimons, W3YRS in the back row, middle with glasses coat and tie.
Above, RACES members took advantage of the break in the monthly state-wide COMMEX to visit with MEMA and State RACES staff
August 10, 2010 RACES members took a trip to The Maryland Emergency Management Agency headquarters at Camp Frettard. We were greeted by MEMA staff
With summer coming to a close, your RACES members are not stopping with more training in the works and some new projects we hope to unveil in the coming months on this page.
Please check back for updates and remember, for RACES information or to join simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact Queen anne's County RACES, please click the link to send us an e-mail
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