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Amateur Radio Unit - W7OEM
ARES/RACES working together
Mission and Purpose Statement  

This Amateur Radio Unit is part of the Emergency Services System and consists of both FCC licensed Amateur Radio operators and interested volunteers. All unit members are processed with a background check and issued a state identification card. All unit members are provided a unit handbook, and training on equipment and facilities located at the Anderson Readiness Center in Salem. Training is typically provided monthly on site for all unit members. 
This Amateur Radio Unit is activated by OEM Staff to provide statewide backup and/or alternate communications during times of emergency - when other methods or modes are overloaded or disrupted. This Unit will utilize HF, VHF, UHF, and Digital Modes to provide communications between county and state emergency management offices, and to border States, as required. The unit´s Amateur Radio call sign is W7OEM.

In accordance with the law
Most public safety communications systems are designed to perform in emergencies at any time of day or night. These systems generally fulfill the demands placed on them by normal conditions or small emergencies and operate within their system design. It is when these systems are expected to perform beyond their design that volunteer communications are considered as an alternate means of communicating.
In Part 97.1, the Federal Communication Commissions (FCC) rules and regulations are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following:
  • (a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

This is an essential element of the "public interest, convenience or necessity" doctrine embodied in the Communications Act of 1934. With this in mind, the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) makes emergency communications an objective for its Field Organization, using Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) as its vehicle for accomplishing this task.
Part 97.407 of the FCC rules provides for RACES, Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services. RACES is a special phase of amateur radio recognized by FEMA, that provides radio communications for civil preparedness purposes only, for local, regional or national civil emergencies. These types of emergencies are not limited to war time activity, but can include natural disasters such as fires, floods and earthquakes.

Here in Oregon...
In Oregon, the Oregon Military Department, Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Division concurs with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) in advocating dual registration in both the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) organization and the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES) organization. When operating under a RACES activation, operators are limited to specific frequencies and may only communicate with other RACES organizations. By combining ARES and RACES (under local and state registration) roles may be switched to meet the requirements of the situation as it develops.
For more information about ARES, look in "QST Magazine" published monthly by ARRL, for the name, address and phone number of each Section Manager in the ARRL Field Organization.

Links of Interest

Here in Oregon, we are fortunate enough that the ARES and RACES organizations work well together to provide a secondary means of communications to public service and emergency management organizations statewide. If you have similar experiences with the same, or would like to share your experiences, please feel free to send your comments to Terry Pietras.