ETECS operates to serve a variety of governmental and public entities. Based on which served agency or agencies request our assistance, we operate under the “authority” of either R.A.C.E.S. or A.R.E.S. ETECS members are usually members of both organizations.
ARES groups are volunteer amateur radio operators who come together for the common purpose of providing emergency and/or auxiliary communications service to public safety and public service organizations. Most individual ARES units are autonomous and operate locally. Although the Amateur Radio Emergency Service is a program (and trademark) of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) in the USA, the structure is more supportive than directive in nature, providing mostly for mutual aid in the event of large-scale emergencies. As long as local units are operating in the best interests of Amateur Radio in general and the ARRL in particular, intervention from the national organization is minimal. The government expresses little governance of ARES (other than the FCC regulations–47 CFR Part 97– which regulate all of Amateur Radio) and local authorities only passively regulate ARES groups by way of formal understandings.
ARES groups are generally organized by city or county and are made up of volunteers from the local area. The only requirements to join ARES are a willingness to serve and a valid amateur radio license. Operations under ARES may be initiated upon request for assistance from a served agency or ARES may self-activate as needed.
The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is a standby radio service provided for in Part 97.407 of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and regulations governing amateur radio in the United States. RACES will consist of only those amateur radio operators who have previously registered with, and passed a background check by, the State of Texas to provide emergency radio communications for them in times of emergency. Operations under the RACES rules can provide or supplement communications during emergencies where normal communication systems have sustained damage or are otherwise inadequate. It may be used in a wide variety of situations, including natural disasters, technological disasters, nuclear accidents, nuclear attack, terrorist incidents, and bomb threats.
RACES operations commence only upon activation by the State of Texas.
ETECS’ “customers” are the served agencies for whom we may provide emergency communications. In general, our served agencies include:
- All incorporated towns and cities in Smith County, Texas
- Smith County Sheriff’s Office
- Smith County 911 Communications District
- All Smith County hospitals of the Piney Woods Regional Advisory Council – Trauma Service Area G (RAC-G)
- Hospitals of the Piney Woods Regional Advisory Council – Trauma Service Area G (RAC-G) outside of Smith County, Texas on a secondary basis
- The American Red Cross
- Texas Division of Emergency Management Disaster District 6
- The National Weather Service (Skywarn)
In many cases ETECS assign radio operators to specific served agencies. A detailed list of served agency assignments is available here.
There are may ways operators can get involved in amateur radio emergency communications:
- Check into the monthly ETECS training net. This net open for members and non-members alike and is held on the last Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. The net is held on the W5ETX 145.210 repeater. This repeater uses a negative offset and an 88.5 Hz tone.
- Monitor any of the repeaters listed on the Systems page. ID and ask a question if you like.
- Apply to become a member ETECS. There are three applications you may need to fill out: An ETECS application, an ARES application and a RACES application. Look on the Resources page for applications and instructions.