The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is a volunteer group organized through the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL). You do not need to be a member of the ARRL to be part of ARES. The only requirements are to possess an Amateur Radio license, a radio, and a have desire to serve. ARES is activated before, during and after an emergency. ARES handles all emergency messages, including those between government emergency management officials. ARES cannot operate if the President of The United States limits access to the Radio Spectrum under the War Powers Act or other declaration.


The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is a volunteer group organized by the government. Members must register with Cherokee County. RACES activates only during an emergency and during the immediate aftermath, and only if government agencies need communications support. RACES can operate if the President restricts access to the Radio Spectrum, so there are special regulations in FCC Part 97 that govern this service (ยง97.407). Other than limited drills, RACES can only operate during an officially declared emergency.

Cherokee ARES Service Levels

Level 1 โ€“ The Basic Communicator

Participants communicate from their home, work or vehicle, passing information to local net controllers concerning their immediate area. They are not deployed to directly served agencies.

  • Amateur Radio License holder
  • Completed Cherokee ARES/RACES Orientation
  • Maintains current and updated ARES FSD-98 form on file (Annually)
  • Approval of Cherokee County ARES Emergency Coordinator (EC)
  • Maintain active membership in good standing with Cherokee County ARES/RACES organization
  • Has at least the minimum required radio equipment to communicate
    • Portable hand held or mobile radio, preferably dual band (2m, 70cm) programmed with current Cherokee County tactical frequencies
    • Auxiliary mobile or small base station type antenna
    • A mechanism to elevate the antenna if needed
    • Backup or supplemental power source (i.e. battery packs, chargers, etc.)

It is recommended (but not required) that all ARES members complete and maintain Skywarn Spotter certification.

Level 2 โ€“ The Deployable Communicator

Participants are deployable within the county (or optionally, within the state) to help facilitate communications from remote locations.

  • Completed all ARES Communicator Level 1 requirements
  • Is prepared and willing to deploy during an emergency
  • Completed Cherokee County RACES Registration Form on file
  • Completed ICS-100, ICS-200, ICS-700, AND ICS-800 FEMA Courses
  • Completes requirements for and holds current Cherokee County EMA-Amateur Radio ID Badge
  • Completed and Maintains current Skywarn Spotter certificate
  • Maintains minimum radio equipment to communicate:
    • Mobile, Base station (portable) or Radio Go-Kit for deployment to include HF capabilities (if so licensed), with necessary coax, connectors and equipment to setup adequate antenna for resources.
    • Highly recommended to have Digital Communications capabilities and training
  • Maintains a "personal sustainment" Go-Kit containing food, wter, medication, backup batteries, etc. for a minimum 72 hour deployment

Level 3 โ€“ Leadership (EC, AEC, and EMA Staff)

This select group forms the core leadership of the Cherokee ARES organization. Members include the Emergency Coordinator (EC), Assistant Emergency Coordinators (AEC), and Emergency Management Center amateur radio staff positions.

  • Completed all ARES Communicator Level 2 requirements
  • Completed GEMA G-775 EOC Management and Operations Classroom course
  • Completed Cherokee EMA WebEOC training
  • Completed AUXComm course from DHS-Office of Emergency Communications (not a requirement if the course has not been offered yet)
  • Completed requirements for (including criminal background checks)and holds current Cherokee EMA-Amateur Radio ID Badge w/ Public Safety building door access privileges

All Level 2 members are encouraged to train and aspire to move to a Level 3 position. However, Level 3 status is granted to a member only when there is a need to fill an open AEC or EMA Staff position, and with approval of Emergency Coordinator.