This is taken from California ACS Home Page
The Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) is a program created by government's disaster or emergency management office to supplement its emergency communications with unpaid staff. Skilled and dedicated people, licensed and unlicensed, can be recruited to serve in one or more of four categories: administrative ,management, technical, and operations.
In California, ACS was expanded from the original RACES program, incorporating civilians who were not amateur radio operators, in emergency communications response. California State ACS serves as an educational and training forum to assist all those interested in emergency communications, to serve State government in time of need.
The ACS provides tactical,logistical and administrative support and communications for all government communications systems. This includes operations on equipment and frequencies of ANY authorized equipment or frequencies in support of ANY need by government that might be in any way connected with an eventual emergency.
This includes: cellular, computer, email, facsimile, Internet, interpersonal, microwave, radio (police, fire, amateur, other), satellite, telephone, television, video conference, in-office support of personnel, operators of equipment and systems.
ACS has its genesis in units originally designed for radio communications by amateur radio operatorson FCC authorized frequencies. This organization, known as RACES(Radio Amateurs in Civil Emergency Service) became widely known nationwide. Dramatic changes in technology and expansion of governmental Public Safety systems indicated the need for a broader service.
In 1993, the State of California,recognizing that a larger volunteer effort was needed that did not requirethe sole use of an amateur radio license, created the Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), which provides the RACES function at the State level. Local communities are encouraged to adopt the State ACS model into thei rcurrent RACES plans. Some units have become ACS in identity, while others have retained their RACES name and operate under ACS guidelines.
ACS makes possible the effective management and utilization of personnel from Amateur Radio, Civil Air Patrol, the Military Affiliate Radio System, Special Emergency Radio Service, REACT and others, in support of civil defense and disaster response and recovery. Activities include much more than operations on selected frequencies of a single service.
ACS resources are normally mobilized at the same time as are other public safety resources responding and reacting to an incident; and not later, when it may be too late to effectively and efficiently, or even possible, to do so.
ACS resources can be utilized in an agency on a day-to-day basis for familiarization for potential emergency response. This includes use of non-amateur frequencies (i.e.; government) for day-to-day government activities in any way related to emergency communications. Participants in an ACS are expected to be more than just operators of radios in a call me if you need me situation or an it may never happen here scenario. They are skilled professionals who work as unpaid staff with the local emergency management agency to enhance its response and recovery in any possible emergency. This includes preparation of plans, systems and personnel for response to any kind of situation or incident.