Amateur Radio Licensing

Prospective amateur radio operators are examined on understanding of the key concepts of electronics, radio equipment, antennas, radio propagation, RF safety, and the radio regulations of the government granting the license. These examinations are sets of questions typically posed in either a short answer or multiple-choice format. In the United States examinations are administered by non-paid certified volunteer examiners, who are previously licensed amateur radio operators.

There are three sequential levels of licensing exams (Technician Class, General Class and Amateur Extra Class) currently offered, which allow operators, who pass the exams, access to larger portions of the Amateur Radio spectrum.

Frequently Asked Questions About ARES

What are the membership requirements for Ohio ARES?

Every amateur radio operator with a valid Amateur Radio license, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible to apply for membership in ARES. Training may be required or desired to participate fully in ARES (see below). Please inquire at the local level for specific information. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.

  • Level 1 - This is our "Entry" Level. Some may not want to advance beyond this level and that's OK. Level 1 persons are those who have not completed the 4 basic NIMS (ICS) courses (IS-100, 200, 700 & 800). If you elect not to get any of this training there are activities that you can still participate in (parades, races and similar events).

  • Level 2 - This is where we hope that everyone will eventually land. This means that you have completed all of the above courses, and you are competent operating within the Incident Command Structure.

  • Level 3 - This is our Management Level. This level will require you to have completed all of the previous requirements in Level 2, plus the additional NIMS (ICS) courses (IS-300 & 400).

  • Skywarn training is not mandatory, but is highly recommended for all levels.

What is a Communications Emergency?

The easiest way to think about a communications emergency - an incident - is to begin by using the definition in the ICS (Incident Command System) manual. Section 1.9 defines an incident as any "...planned or unplanned occurrence or event, regardless of cause, which requires action by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or damage to property and/or natural resources."

What is the Incident Command System?

The Incident Command System is a management tool consisting of procedures for organizing personnel, facilities, equipment and communications at the scene of an emergency. The ICS is designed to assist anyone who has the responsibility for the successful outcome of an incident. The ICS provides a method for multiple agencies - EMA, police, fire, EMS, ARES - to cooperatively interact through a common communications link.

What does my appearance and attitude have to do with Emergency Communications?

It is important that you realize your knowledge of Emergency Communications is not as important as your appearance and attitude during emergencies. Technical ability will enable you to do a good job of communicating, but your personal appearance and attitude will determine the success of the overall ARES effort.

Once someone knows you are an amateur radio operator you are ham radio to them. Everything you do reflects, in some way, on amateur radio and ARES. The person who brings an arrogant attitude to the scene or airways will only cast a negative image of ARES with served agencies and the public at large.

The agencies we serve are professionals that have seen far too many people that are more interested in impressing someone than getting the job done. You will actually impress them far more by being respectful and doing your job in the best way possible. Results, without interference of the served agencies and having a proper appearance, will cement relations with our served agencies and guarantee we will be requested in the future.

Remember that service as an ARES volunteer is entirely at the discretion of the local and district EC's.

What defines a communications emergency?

A communications emergency can be the result of a hurricane, tornado, flood or anything that disrupts normal communications. The common issue is when communications processes are inadequate to handle the flow of information required to service an incident, as defined in the ICS.

What role does Amateur Radio serve?

Our primary role is to support the emergency management community (responders, relief and recovery agencies) with communications during times of emergency and disaster when normal communications are unavailable or overwhelmed. Please understand that we are not a rapid response team. If you arrive at the scene of an emergency just as the sirens are quieting, observe and wait for not involve yourself until requested!

As a group, we do not provide first aid, transport victims, provide traffic control, or any other function normally provided by public service agencies. We provide communication when public service systems are overloaded.

As a group we will, in many cases, do more than "just" communicate. You are free to do any work for the served agency that they may request, as long as you are comfortable doing the work and it does not hinder your ability to communicate.

Trained operators have learned to communicate accurately, in a timely fashion regardless of the obstacles in the event.

Can we go directly to a scene when we hear about an incident?

Self-deployment adds unnecessary stress to an already chaotic incident and drains allocated resources. Self-deployed volunteers become part of the problem and not part of the solution.

In a nutshell - ARES does not self-deploy. There are no exceptions. If volunteers are needed and mutual aid is requested, your EC will notify you.