Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services, or RACES, is the communications branch of the Federal Emergency Management System (FEMA). When a governmental entity (that is, a representative of the City, County, State, or Federal government) requests amateur radio assistance, the response is through RACES. This is because governmental activation alters several aspects of disaster-response funding, including insurance coverage. Governmental requests usually involve a disaster or other wide-reaching emergency. When you hear in the news that amateur radio operator are assisting officials within an officially declared disaster zone, such as in the aftermath of a hurricane, earthquake, flood, you're hearing about a RACES function. RACES operators are covered in California by Disaster Service Worker (DSW) insurance. This is a variety of Worker's Compensation.
You become a RACES amateur radio operator by signing up for DSW and registering with your local RACES organization--or, in Santa Clara County, your local ARES/RACES organization. (The procedure for signing up for DSW is part of the ARES/RACES Policies and Procedures Manual.)
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This page was last updated 2/20/05