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Author Topic: RACES Headaches  (Read 8860 times)
KC8OYE
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Posts: 297




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« on: January 24, 2011, 08:36:28 PM »

my local (former) ARES organization requires RACES Cards for 'full membership'.. o.k whatever..  I was trying to look into R.A.C.E.S

Qst's page on RACES says to contact your local civil defense organization for information.  I did a lot of digging, the only information I can find is the Michigan State Police website.. that points me right back to QST's website.

does anyone have a link or something that can point me towards some information on that?  the next meeting of MSCG (Michigan Specialized Communications Group) / MARET (Michigan ham Radio Emergency Teams)  ((these two replaced what used to be Genesee County ARES))

is two weeks away.. I don't really want to wait that long to talk to somebody about it!
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K3JPC
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2011, 04:17:21 AM »

RACES are organized at the county level, by the county department of emergency services. At least ours is. Do a Google search for your county followed by "RACES" in all caps.

For example, Googling this 

Chester county RACES

Gets my group as the second hit

http://www.w3eoc.org/

Googling this

Montgomery county RACES

gets an adjacent county group for the third hit.

http://www.mcraces.com/


Try googling your count with RACES and if you have an active group with a web site, it should show up. From what I've read here some counties don't want RACES help so there are not always organized groups for it. If your county is like that, search adjacent counties.

Luckily, our group is extremely professional, with a core group of about 30+ members who don't whine about doing the FEMA training, take things seriously, and are very energetic and our county DES loves us. They work us into all sorts of things (we're helping with the annual homeless count this month) and are very appreciative.

I've seen posts in here where groups apparently have gotten some prima donnas in them with big egos, folks who take umbrage at having to do 'training', and generally cranky or unprofessional behavior which has caused their county DES to want nothing to do with them. If that is the case your county will not have a RACES group because the county DES has to want them, if I understand this correctly. In other words the local radio clubs cannot have a RACES group unless the county DES wants it, I think it has to be sponsored by the served agency.

On the other hand, ARES groups are often active, they don't require county sponsorship, they are organized under ARRL auspices, and the served agency is the public at large, the local community. So while they may not be involved in disaster response stuff, they can be involved in community parades, races, fairs, etcetera. Our club has both ARES/RACES groups.

See if that google search helps you out. It is unfortunate some groups have gotten off on the wrong foot with their county DES, it seems hard to repair damage there and get the relationship right. I just happened to be lucky and live in an area with a terrific, happy, professional group, and a county DES director who appreciates us and is always looking for ways to integrate us. Not much you can do about that. Just hope your county is in the same situation, or you can find one nearby you can get involved with.

I'm a new ham, so if I am wrong, an elmer will come along and straighten this out quickly. Maybe there are state RACES organizations I don't know about. But my understanding at my level of training is they are organized at the county level. Our RACES officers coordinate with the RACES groups in adjacent counties, and my understanding is some of them are very good, too, some are pretty much hopeless.

Good luck.
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K3JPC
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2011, 04:21:41 AM »

This thread may give you some insight into why some counties like RACES groups and others don't.

http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,64211.0.html

I found it pretty interesting. I am extremely lucky to have fallen into a great group with a great working relationship with our county. Like I said, I think that is pretty much luck of the draw for folks like you and me trying to get active. Not much we can do about it.

Good luck finding a good, active group!

John
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 12974




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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2011, 04:39:05 AM »

Our ARES group also requires RACES cards - but submits the application to the local authorities
on your behalf as part of the enrollment process.  It usually isn't something that you do on
your own.

So the team will probably tell you the process at the first meeting - it isn't something that
normally happens in a couple of weeks.  (We've had cards held up for a year or more on
occasion - usually because the paperwork was lost in the Sheriff's Department.  In the
meantime you can train and participate with the group.
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KC8OYE
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Posts: 297




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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2011, 09:12:37 PM »

Thanks for the tips guys.. our (Former) ARES group has some good and some bad relationships.. we've had a few F***-ups in the group over the years that have not done our reputation well.. but we have an awesome mutual-aid relationship with the local fire depts.. they love us, and ask us to help them.

i realize the RACES card isn't going to be an overnight thing, but I couldn't find _ANY_ info on the process, or whats required (beyond the obvious of being a licensed ham)

hopefully this will help.
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K3JPC
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2011, 06:09:05 PM »

Wondering if you Googled your county and/or adjacent counties yet to see if there was a RACES group there. What luck?
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KC8OYE
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Posts: 297




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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2011, 09:15:10 PM »

Yeah I googled it.. all I found was some links to a race track in the county.. nothing on R.A.C.E.S
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K3JPC
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2011, 03:10:44 AM »

You don't google R.A.C.E.S. you google RACES without the periods. My exact Google searches were in my post and they worked, which may mean your county has no RACES group. Likely.

You could try googling the county and ARES/RACES all run together or just ARES. But you may not have an active group in your area. Bummer.
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KC8OYE
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Posts: 297




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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2011, 07:40:15 PM »

There is an active RACES group in our county, for some reason tho, there is no mention of it on the official gov. pages.

What used to the be the local ARES group, has basically dissolved it's association with ARES, and associated with RACES to allow more flexibility in what we do.   

I just picked up a voluntary position on the IT committee which makes me responsible for the website content, and I took the races info that was buried in the text and made it much more prominent Smiley

http://www.mscginc.org/RACES.html
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K3JPC
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2011, 06:14:56 AM »

Excellent! Glad you found it in your county!

Please keep updating this thread as you become more involved. I am also new to our group and I'd be interested in your activities and impressions.

My group is here.

http://www.w3eoc.org/

Have fun!

John
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LA9XSA
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Posts: 376




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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2011, 07:39:43 AM »

Well done, KC8OYE. You ended up solving the problem yourself and blazing a trail for others, in the best tradition of ham radio.
By the way: It should say Independent Study. I made a new version of the logo for dark backgrounds: http://i52.tinypic.com/14syzrk.gif
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KC8OYE
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Posts: 297




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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2011, 04:50:16 PM »

Well done, KC8OYE. You ended up solving the problem yourself and blazing a trail for others, in the best tradition of ham radio.
Thank you Smiley  It should be interesting.  there was a lot of political-type BS involved the ARES group when it existed which lead a LOT of people in the area to just drift away and not be part of it.  We're trying to re-build that.

one of the biggest problems one of the other guys feels (and I tend to agree) is our lack of activities as 'a club'  there tends to be this default feeling that everything we do needs to be done as a 'training exercise'.. there are no 'just for fun' activities.. and thats got to change.

I'm thinking once the weather warms up I might offer to coordinate some county-wide fox hunts Smiley


By the way: It should say Independent Study.
DOH! I hate it when a little spelling error slips through!


I made a new version of the logo for dark backgrounds: http://i52.tinypic.com/14syzrk.gif

Thanks.. I'll try that out with the site in just a few minutes.  I Inherited the site.. I wasn't responsible for any of it's layout.. but I was told quite clearly, there are some thing I'm just plain not allowed to mess with.. LOL
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K7VV
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Posts: 32




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« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2011, 09:51:26 PM »

One of the major problems with RACES generally is that there is absolutely no necessary relationship between different RACES groups; each one is a 'stand alone' sponsored by any governmental entity that has 'civil defense' responsibilities.  Thus, there is no common structure that relates, for example, all the RACES units in a state; no common training standards, no common operating manual, etc etc.  No command and control struture.
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K3JPC
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2011, 03:37:04 AM »

One of the major problems with RACES generally is that there is absolutely no necessary relationship between different RACES groups; each one is a 'stand alone' sponsored by any governmental entity that has 'civil defense' responsibilities.  Thus, there is no common structure that relates, for example, all the RACES units in a state; no common training standards, no common operating manual, etc etc.  No command and control struture.

While that is true, it is not necessarily an issue. RACES does not need to be like a national military organization to function. Our county RACES group does coordinate (voluntarily) with surrounding county RACES groups that are active. A major concept in the FEMA structure is modularity and scalability, and RACES groups would fall under the ICS command structure. I'm not sure a centralized regional command structure for RACES is needed.

However, your point is well taken. Coordination and common procedures would be VERY helpful. All RACES groups know how to run comm nets, I'm sure. But what about going beyond forma voice nets for emergency operations?

Our group does weekly NBEMS training. The ICS Form 213 message format is a standard all RACES groups are familiar with, but perhaps common operating procedures around NBEMS operations over large areas might be helpful. Picking a common operational mode and training with it regularly is really needed for it to be effective over a wider area than just one county. We are just getting to the point where we are trying to run nets using NBEMS only, no voice. We're not quite there yet, but we are making progress.

I can tell from the little I've done with it that unless other RACES groups practice NBEMS, and pretty regularly, they won't be able to be effective with it at all. I think groups can certainly work independently, and a centralized command structure for RACES is not necessary under the ICS structure. But formal coordination between RACES groups and common procedures would be a very good thing indeed.

John  -  K3JPC
« Last Edit: February 01, 2011, 03:39:57 AM by K3JPC » Logged
KD8AYL
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Posts: 2




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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2011, 06:30:07 AM »

RACES in Genesee county is operated by the Sheriffs department which now has the office of Emergency Management under their scope. Jenifier Boyer is the Emergency manager at this time as is working directly with the Board of Directors of the Michigan Specialized Communications Group. This 501(c)3 Tax exempt organization has a number of committees under its name Two of these committees represent RACES and the other represents ARES. The Races Radio officer represents the RACES Team and the EC for ARRL represents the ARES group. You can be a RACES member or an ARES member and not be a member of Michigan Amateur Radio Emergency Teams which is the name give to the committee that supplies support to both RACES and ARES in Genesee County. Or you can be a member of all. There is no charge for membership.  Should you want to obtain a RACES card please feel free to contact either myself at kd8ayl@arrl.net or Clay at KF8UI@arrl.net. Please note that the Basic requirements set forth by the Sheriffs department are noted on the website mscginc.org.
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